It amounts to holding an accused without trial; it is an abuse of the court process. The Buhari administration should respect court orders and end its habitual disobedience of court orders.
The good news, some weeks ago, was that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, had met all the bail conditions imposed on him by the Federal High Court on July 2, 2018. His lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), said a letter confirming the fulfillment of those conditions by the Deputy Chief Registrar would be presented to the Department of State Services (DSS) on July 17, 2018. The DSS has detained Col. Dasuki since December 29, 2015.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu had granted Dasuki bail in the sum of N200 million with two sureties in like sum. The judge had rejected Dasuki’s pleadings for a public apology and an award of N5 billion compensation which should be the just penalty for government’s serial disobedience of court orders that he be released on bail. She also rejected all the grounds canvassed by the government for Dasuki’s continued detention. Upon the delivery of the letter by the Deputy Chief Registrar, the DSS was to release Dasuki in line with the court order. That was the expectation of all reasonable Nigerians.
This is the sixth time the former NSA would be granted bail. It is an outrage that this is the sixth time the Buhari administration would thwart the process and disobey the court’s orders. Dasuki’s continued incarceration has constituted something of a scandal, standing out as one of the most egregious disregard of the rule of law by the Muhammadu Buhari administration. It has been one big minus in the administration’s democracy credentials. Lawyers and civil society organisations have condemned it as a gross abuse of human rights, which must end.
The administration stands condemned on this issue because a bail is no more than a temporary release from a court-ordered or police detention during an ongoing trial. It does not stop the trial. The 1999 Constitution (as amended), the grund norm of the legal system, with its Seventh Schedule which all top executives of government – judges, legislators, governors, and administrators – swear to when they come to power; the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015), are unanimous on how an accused person must be treated. The Constitution is unambiguous. Any person arrested must be brought to trial within reasonable period, and a reasonable time, Section 35 of the Constitution 5(a) says, is one day “in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of forty kilometres; and (b) in any other case, a period of two days or such longer period…considered by the court to be reasonable.”
Col. Dasuki has been held since December 2015 and various courts have spoken that holding him any longer without bail cannot be reasonable. All our topmost government leaders swear to uphold the Constitution. To hold a man for two and a half years goes against the Constitution. If Dasuki is subjected to a neurological test today, it may be found that he cannot be the same man he was in 2015 when he was arrested. Secondly, all democratic conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and Section 36 of our Constitution state that every suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The subterfuge of raising fresh charges in order to thwart the bail granted an accused person so as to perpetually keep him in detention runs against every tenet of democracy and due process. It amounts to holding an accused without trial; it is an abuse of the court process. The Buhari administration should respect court orders and end its habitual disobedience of court orders. It is indeed a disgrace that a government that pretends to be democratic needs being reminded to obey court orders on issues as fundamental as letting accused persons take advantage of the bail granted them by courts of competent jurisdiction for bailable offences.