It must be more than five times since 2015 when the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki was granted bail after he was arrested and later taken to court. Since then, the Federal Government has used all tricks to ensure that he remains in government custody. Recently, the former National Security Adviser, NSA met all the bail conditions imposed on him by the Federal High Court on a July 2, 2018 order. 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 N200million with two sureties in like sum. However, the judge had rejected Dasuki’s pleadings for a public apology and an award of N5 billion compensation, which according to his lawyer, was the just penalty for government’s successive disobedience of court orders that he be freed on bail. On the other hand, she equally rejected all the grounds canvassed by the government for Dasuki’s continued detention. Upon delivery of the letter by the Deputy Chief Registrar, the DSS was to release Dasuki in line with the court order. Unfortunately, nearly two weeks after these events, Dasuki is yet to be released.
After the sixth time of being granted bail, the former NSA would be wondering what the issues could be beyond what has been taken to court. To reasonable Nigerians, it is an outrage that government has failed to toe the path of modern government’s behaviour. That an administration would thwart the rule of law and disobey the order of different courts in a democratic Nigeria is something to worry about.
Dasuki’s continued incarceration has constituted something of a scandal, standing out as one of the most telling disregard of the rule of law by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. It has been one big minus in the administration’s democratic credentials.
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, is clear on what constitutes a breach of laws of the country. Every constituted authority must uphold the sanctity of court judgments or orders. It is none negotiable. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, answers some of the issues of delay in prosecution. 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 40 kilometres; and (b) in any other case, a period of two days or such longer period…considered by the court to be reasonable.”
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.
Nevertheless, our intervention on this matter is not strictly on the rights of the former NSA alone. Based on report of investigations and some of the charges in court, Dasuki isn’t the rightful person to attract any sympathies. What he is alleged to have done is not just criminal; it is a calculated assault on the sovereignty of the country. Therefore, government should be in a hurry to bring this case to an end. If government is convinced of its own investigations, it should be in a hurry to establish guilt rather than this resort to self help. Government will do well to follow established democratic principles. The country cannot afford to exhibit its brutish possibilities over a single citizen.