Tag Archives: dasuki

FG don’t have the right to detain sowore, others over court orders – Femi Falana


Since the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki from illegal custody on December 24, 2019, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has put himself under undue pressure.

In the process, he has embarrassed the executive and exposed the judiciary to ridicule.


After announcing that he had directed the State Security Service to release Sowore and Dasuki from custody in compliance with the court orders that had granted them bail, the Justice Minister turned round to say that the release was an act of compassion and mercy on the part of the executive.

I was compelled to challenge the claim of the Justice Minister as he lacks the power to release any person standing trial on compassionate grounds by virtue of section 175 of the constitution.


After he had rightly abandoned that dangerous legal route, Mr Malami has since asserted that Nigerian Government was right to have detained Sowore and Dasuki in defiance of the court orders which had admitted them to bail. In support of the outlandish contention, the Justice Minister said that the government was not bound to obey the court orders until the final determination of the appeals filed against the court orders.

In an interview aired on NTA last Thursday, the Justice Minister said, “There were appeals (sic) for stay of execution all through.


“So, until those matters reach the Supreme Court and the apex court takes the final decision, relating there, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law… So, in respect of those orders, we are not comfortable with as a government, we go back to the court and have them challenged. Until that matter, that your right of challenge, is determined up to the Supreme Court level, the idea of you being charged with disobedience of court order does not arise.”

With respect, the minister’s statement is factually and legally erroneous in every material particular. If the Justice Minister has had time to review Sowore’s case file, which he had withdrawn from the State Security Service, he would have confirmed that no appeal was filed against the two decisions of the Federal High Court, which admitted him and his co-defendant, Mr Olawale Bakare, to bail. Instead of challenging the orders granting bail to Sowore and Bakare at the Court of Appeal, the State Security Service had actually attempted to constitute itself into an appellate court over the Federal High Court by insisting on approving the sureties that had been verified by the trial court.


As defence counsel, we rejected the illegal request to produce the sureties before the Director-General of the State Security Service until Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave him a 24-hour ultimatum to release the duo from illegal custody.

It is on record that Dasuki was granted bail at different times by six judges of the Federal High Court and the Federal Capital Territory High Court.


It is pertinent to note that the Nigerian Government did not file an appeal against any of the six court orders. In fact, the first bail application of Dasuki was not opposed by Mohammed Diri Esq., who was the then Director of Public Prosecutions from the chambers of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Hence, Dasuki was admitted to bail in self recognisance on August 30, 2015. Having not opposed the bail application, government could not have filed any appeal against the order of the court.

Apparently frustrated with the contemptuous conduct of the Nigerian Government, Dasuki approached the ECOWAS Court for redress. In a landmark judgment delivered on October 4, 2018, the ECOWAS court indicted Nigeria and awarded N15m damages in favour of Dasuki for his detention in defiance of the orders of Nigerian courts. According to the judges of the court, “It appears that the sole aim of the re-arrest is to circumvent the grant of bail and by keeping the applicant in custody through executive fiat unsupported by any law or order of court.”


On the allegation that Dasuki was facing a serious charge of the criminal diversion of the sum of $2.1bn for purchase of arms, the ECOWAS Court said that, “For the avoidance of doubt, any persons, who have violated the criminal laws of a state especially the ones impeding the development of the state and destruction of its commonwealth are liable to be tried and if found guilty should face the consequences of their action(s). However, in doing so, states must respect all international obligations with regard to due process and respect for fundamental rights of the suspects. Failure to do so will impute responsibility to the state regarding such violations of rights while leaving intact their right to prosecute and punish offences against their criminal laws.”

It is submitted that the Nigerian Government could not have filed an appeal against the judgment because the ECOWAS Court is a judicial tribunal of first and last resort, without any right of appeal.


However, after the judgment of ECOWAS Court, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court had cause to admit Dasuki to another bail but asked each of his two sureties to deposit N100m with the court. The government did not file an appeal against the ruling but Dasuki did as he was completely dissatisfied with the suffocating conditions attached to his bail. The appeal was decided in Dasuki’s favour as the bail conditions were varied in liberal terms by the Court of Appeal. The Nigerian Government never approached the Supreme Court to challenge any aspect of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

In the same vein, the government did not file any appeal against any of the orders of the high courts, which had admitted Sowore and Dasuki to bail. Consequently, no motion was ever filed for stay of execution of any of the court orders. Since no notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution was ever filed by the government against the orders of bail for Sowore and Dasuki, the Justice Minister ought to tender a public apology for misleading the Nigerian people.


However, if the Justice Minister can produce any notice of appeal or motion for stay of execution in respect of the two cases, I will publicly apologise to him for misleading the Nigerian people.

From the foregoing, it is undoubtedly clear that the two orders of the Federal High Court admitting Sowore to bail were treated with contempt while the eight orders of the Federal High Court, Federal Capital Territory High Court, ECOWAS Court and the Court of Appeal, which admitted Dasuki to bail were ignored by the Nigerian Government based on erroneous legal advice.


A couple of weeks ago, I had reminded the Justice Minister of the fact that as a military dictator, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari had complied with court orders by releasing 13 political detainees from the illegal custody of the notorious National Security Organisation (now State Security Service) based on the legal advice of his Attorney-General, the late Chief Chike Offodile (SAN).

Even under the dreaded Sani Abacha junta, the law was not totally silent. Hence, when I was detained in 1996 under the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree No 2 of 1984 at the Mawadachi Prison in Jigawa State, the Federal High Court granted an order permitting my wife to visit me. And upon the service of the order on the government, the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the late Chief Michael Agbamuche (SAN), advised the prison authority to comply with the court order. At about the same time, Mr Agbamuche equally advised the Abacha junta to comply with the order of the Court of Appeal permitting the wife and personal physician of the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) to visit him in the Bauchi Prison. It is on record that the Abacha junta complied with both court orders in line with the advice of the Justice Minister.


Therefore, if the court orders issued in favour of the opponents of military dictators were respected under the defunct military regime, it is unacceptable for a democratically elected government, which operates under the rule of law to ignore the orders of municipal and regional courts for the release of political detainees and criminal suspects from illegal custody.

In as much as the eventual release of Sowore and Dasuki is appreciated, it ought to be pointed out that this is a mere tip of the iceberg. If the Nigerian Government has genuinely decided to embrace the rule of law, it has to comply with all valid and subsisting court orders and respect the human rights of the Nigerian people. As a matter of urgency, the Justice Minister should direct the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Correctional Service, State Security Service, armed forces, anti-graft agencies and other law enforcement agencies to either release or prosecute the thousands of criminal suspects including terror suspects that have been incarcerated for months without trial. The detaining authorities should also be prohibited from parading suspects and subjecting them to physical and mental torture in contravention of the provisions of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.

SAN, Femi Falana

Furthermore, the Council of the National Human Rights Commission, which was dissolved in 2015 should be reconstituted by the President on the recommendation of the Justice Minister. In June last year, President Buhari directed the office of the Attorney -General, the Inspector-General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission to carry out the reforms of the Special Anti Robbery Squad of the Police within three months. It is high time the directive was carried out. The Georgewill Judicial commission of Inquiry, which investigated human rights abuses in the armed forces submitted its report in February 2018. The government should issue a white paper on the report forthwith. The Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the military invasion of Zaria in December 2015 recommended the prosecution of the military officers, who massacred 347 Shiites and buried their bodies in a mass grave. The indicted suspects should be charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court without any further delay.

Owing to the refusal of the Nigerian Government to act on these reports by prosecuting those, who bear full responsibility for such eggregious human rights infringements, the office of the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has concluded arrangements to open preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity concerning the extrajudicial killings of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, and Indigenous People of Biafra. It is hoped that the government will not allow Nigeria to be exposed to international opprobrium for her unwillingness and inability to prosecute the indicted murder suspects.


#Newsworthy…

FG right to have detained Dasuki, Sowore continuously – Malami.


Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation has said the federal government was right in detaining Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki despite court orders for their release.

Malami said this on Thursday, January 2nd when he appeared on NTA programme.


Sowore, convener of the Revolution Now movement, and Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), were held by the Department of State Services (DSS) long after several court orders were issued for their release.

Speaking during the programme, Malami, who later asked the DSS to release both men, said the government never erred in holding them despite the court orders. He said the government has the right to still detain Sowore and Dasuki until an appeal against the orders is determined by the supreme court.


“If a decision is made, or a judgement is passed, you have an option: one, absolute and unconditional compliance; two, challenge to the order by way of either an appeal against it; or asking that the order be reviewed or appealing and applying for stay of execution,” he said.

“So, in respect of those orders we are not comfortable with as a government, we go back to the court and have them challenged. Until that matter, that your right of challenge, is determined up to the supreme court level, the idea of you being charged with disobedience of court order does not arise.”

Abubakar Malami, AGF

Asked if the government applied for variation of the court orders against Sowore and Dasuki, the minister said there were applications to set aside the orders.

“There were appeals for stay of execution all through. So, until those matters reach the supreme court and the supreme court takes the final decision, relating there, you are still operating within the ambit and context of rule of law” he added.


#Newsworthy…

Why I don’t need to apologise to sowore, dasuki – AGF, Malami replies Falana.


The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that the release of publisher and convener of Revolution Now protest, Omoyele Sowore, and a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, were done out of compassion.

Malami made this known in a statement released by his spokesperson, Dr Umar Gwandu, while reacting to a statement issued on Sunday December 29th by Sowore’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN). Falana had demanded that Malami apologizes to Sowore and Dasuki for allegedly offering wrong advice to the Federal Government which resulted in the prolonged detention of Dasuki for four years and Sowore for over four months despite different court orders granting them bail.


Reacting to Falana’s comment demanding an apology to Dasuki and Sowore, Malami in his statement, said he is disappointed at the Senior Lawyer for making such demands when he knows that the release could only have been granted based on valid reasons which includes compassion.

“First, it is beyond doubt that the Federal Government of Nigeria or any prosecuting authority has been vested with constitutional right of appeal in criminal prosecutions. These rights extend to rulings on bail and right to seek to vary terms of bail, among others. Thus, in any circumstance where this right is waived by the prosecution, it can only be for valid reasons, including compassion, after all connected issues have been duly considered.” the statement read


He accused Falana of trying to garner media hype in condemning the Federal government’s kind gesture of releasing Sowore and Dasuki.

“It is further appalling to note that in a bid to garner media hype in condemnation of a valid governmental action taken in good faith and in the interest of the general public, Mr Falana, SAN, resorted to quoting non-existing sections of the constitution by stating that, Mr Malami (SAN), should have apologised to Col. Dasuki (retd.) and Mr Sowore in accordance with Section 32(6) of the 1999 Constitution…It is unfortunate that a senior member of the bar could resort to concoctions and fabrications of non-existing provisions just to score cheap media publicity.

It is important to highlight that the statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, which Mr Falana was allegedly responding to, did not howsoever state that the duo of Dasuki and Sowore were released further to the constitutional provisions on Prerogative of Mercy.

A lawyer of Mr Falana’s status should thus desist from stretching arguments beyond reasonable limits in order to score cheap political points. It is a common knowledge that Prerogative of Mercy and compassion simpliciter are two different concepts.” the statement read


#Newsworthy…

Sowore, Dasuki released on pity – AGF, Malami.

…revolved around our commitment to the rule of law


The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has explained that the release of a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore, from detention was due to the Federal Government having compassion for the duo. NobleReporters learnt

Dasuki spent more than four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) while Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, was held for almost five months.

According to a statement by the AGF spokesman Dr. Umar Gwandu on Friday, who quoted Mr Malami in an interview with the BBC Hausa and the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, the reason for the release of Dasuki and Sowore owes also to the commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders.


He stated that both men had multiple options after the court ruling, either to appeal or review the order.

“The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds.


“It is important to understand the fact that as far as the law is concerned and in relation to the Nigerian justice system, one has multiple options after a court has ruled on a matter.

the right to appeal the said ruling, the right to ask the same court that issued an order to vary or review the terms of the order as well as the right to request for Stay of Execution of the order pending the hearing and determination of an appeal in that matter.”


Mr Malami denied the claim that his office received any formal communication from any American Senator on the matter, stating that it was not due to any domestic or international pressure on the Federal Government.

He maintained that FG has the right to keep detaining the suspects while challenging the order admitting them to bail up to the apex court.


“Even if we received any communication from them that will never be the basis on the part of the Federal Government to obey or disobey court orders emanating from Nigeria.

“The critical question that you may ask should be whether there is a strong suspicion of committing an offence or not. If there is a strong suspicion of committing an offence which deserved, as a matter of necessity, to be investigated through legal steps then there was no room for thinking of witch-hunting an individual, scoring acrimonies or personal vendetta against anyone.

The AGF stressed that Dasuki and Sowore can now enjoy bail based on the merit of their individual cases.

“The time has now come for Sambo Dasuki and Omoyele Sowore to also enjoy bail based on the merit of their individual cases. They were charged based on their individual cases, taken to court, granted bail and now have been released. All the individuals involved were treated fairly and justly; they were taken to court, enjoyed the court’s favourable discretion and they were all released,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Sowore, Dansuki’s Further Detention Despite Court Order, Lawful – Presidency Insist.

…advice of the Minister of Justice


The Presidency has insisted that the Federal Government’s decision to hold Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Mr Omoyele Sowore did not go against the laws of the land.

Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), spent more than four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) while Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, was held for almost five months.


Defending the position of the government on the prolonged detention of the duo, a presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, stressed that the government has always obeyed the orders of the court.

He, however, clarified that Dasuki and Sowore remained in detention on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami


The Presidency has insisted that the Federal Government’s decision to hold Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Mr Omoyele Sowore did not go against the laws of the land.

Dasuki, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), spent more than four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) while Sowore, the convener of #RevolutionNow protests, was held for almost five months.


Defending the position of the government on the prolonged detention of the duo, a presidential spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, stressed that the government has always obeyed the orders of the court.

He, however, clarified that Dasuki and Sowore remained in detention on the advice of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami.


A Right To Appeal
“The Attorney General of the Federation who is the chief law officer, as far as the government is concerned, has convinced everyone and the government inclusive that there is a basis for their continued detention because the individual right must not undermine the collective right,” the President’s media aide told Channels Television on Wednesday in an interview on Politics Today.

He added, “The Attorney General of the Federation has explained the position of the government. If you like call it a new leaf, if you like accept the fact that the government has a renewed determination to show the example of how the court should be treated even when you are feeling aggrieved.


“In this particular case, the government has its own right as to how and why the bail was given, and an intention to appeal.”

“However, the government is saying, ‘let us do this to show respect for the court of the land so that all of this thing about the lack of respect for due process will just give us a chance and leave the table for now,” Shehu stressed.


The convener of #RevolutionNow protests, Mr Omoyele Sowore, celebrates as he departs the DSS office in Abuja on December 24, 2019. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

Dasuki was arrested in December 2015 over allegations of diverting $2.1billion arms funds while Sowore was charged along with his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare, with counts of treasonable felony and money laundering among others.


The defendants have since pleaded not guilty and were granted bail by various courts.

A Sudden U-Turn
Following widespread outrage over the continued detention of the former NSA and the #RevolutionNow protests convener, the AGF ordered the DSS to release the duo on Christmas eve.


But President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman argued that the sudden U-turn by the government has nothing to do with pressure from any individual or group.

Presidential Aide, Garba Shehu

According to him, the AGF made it clear over time that there is a major principle of the law which says that the rights of a majority and that of a community under threat override the rights of an individual.


Shehu added that the minister took the case to a conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), adding that it was underscored by a major decision of the Supreme Court.

He stressed that it was a major principle to sacrifice the freedom of an individual for that of a larger community when the need arises, pointing out the case of Dasuki and Sowore.


Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu speaks about Sowore and Dasuki’s release. (file photo).

No Compromise
The presidential aide, however, said there was a need for those granted bail not to misinterpret their release as an acquittal but abide with the terms upon with the bail was granted.


“The government is not compromising anything but the government wants to set an example of the obedience of the law even when it disagrees with what the court says it should do,” the President’s aide clarified, adding, “The government has a position on the non-release founded in the laws of the country.”

Activist & CEO, Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore

“The Attorney General of the Federation is convinced that their continued detention did not breach the laws of the country; that it is consistent with the laws and the adjudication of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“Our understanding is that he (AGF) believes that the decision to keep them there was strongly founded in the law and so, therefore, it is not something that is extra-judicial,” he said


#Newsworthy…