- Ozekhome pleads for ex-NSA’s release
Martins Ifijeh with agency report
The federal government has given reasons why it believes that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), should not be granted bail.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said Dasuki’s personal right should be violated for the larger public good.
He accused Dasuki of being responsible for more than 100,000 deaths.
His comments came after a Federal High Court in Abuja recently granted Dasuki bail, the latest of such orders.
The former NSA was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) in December 2015, accused of illegal possession of firearms.
He was also accused of diverting $2.1 billion while he served as the NSA.
Dasuki is facing separate trials for the alleged offences.
Since his arrest in 2015, the former NSA has been granted bail multiple times by different courts. The latest bail was approved on July 2.
But the federal government has refused to release him.
Following the government’s failure to obey the various court orders, Dasuki’s lawyers asked the court to prevent the continuation of their client’s case on the grounds that the government agencies prosecuting Dasuki had refused to obey legitimate orders of court.
A new interview by Malami with the Voice of America, Hausa Service, has shed light on the government’s thinking.
In the interview conducted on July 13 and obtained by Premium Times, Malami claimed that the allegations against Dasuki were a matter of public interest, overriding an individual’s rights.
“What I want you to know is that issues concerning law and order under Muhammadu Buhari are sacrosanct and obeying court order is compulsory,” he said.
“However you should also know that there is a general consensus world over that where the dispute is only between individuals, then you can consider the issue based on the instant situation. But if the dispute is about an issue that affects an entire country, then you have to remember that government is about the people and not for only an individual.
“So, you have to look at it from this perspective. If the issue about an individual coincides with that, which affects the people of a country and you are now saying the government did not obey a court order that infringes on a single person’s rights. Remember ,we are talking about a person who was instrumental to the deaths of over 100,000 people. Are you saying that the rights of one person are more important than that of 100,000 who lost their lives?
“Reports have shown that there was a massive mismanagement of funds meant for military hardware, which the military could not access and that led to the death of many, embezzlement of the fund and because of that many people have lost their lives. Obeying the court is not the issue per say. Are we going to take the issue of an individual more important than that of the people? The government’s main responsibility is for and about the people. The essence of governance is to better the lives of its people. So you have to weigh it based on that; the rights of an individual or the rights of the people,” Malami explained.
Malami however, said the government might decide to appeal the court order if it feels compelled to do so.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release Dasuki following the bail granted him by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He said for the records, the latest bail order was the sixth President Buhari has refused to obey because he runs a government given to unparalleled impunity and executive lawlessness.
Ozekhome, who stated this in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, said four previous different judges of Federal High Courts and FCT High Courts had, at one time or the other, granted Dasuki bail, but that President Buhari’s government refused to release him.
“Instead, it sat as an appellate court over the courts, inspite of the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in sections 4 (Legislature), 5 (Executive) and 6 (Judiciary), of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
“We are having the dangerous situation where this government picks and chooses, which orders to obey or disobey – an anarchical situation. The same government has so far refused to obey several orders for the release of the Shittes leader, El-Zakzaki. This is clearly against constitutionalism and the rule of law,” he added.
Ozekhome said the Supreme Court of Nigeria and other courts of superior jurisdictions, have emphasised that the orders of the courts, even if unpalatable to the recipient, or even, if patently illegal or wrong, must be obeyed, except upturned on appeal, by a higher court.
He said: “Mr President, sir, in the name of almighty Allah, the Supreme God we all serve, let Dasuki go home on bail. Give him a breather. He has a family, friends and dependants to care for. He has not yet been convicted by any court of law. He is still presumed innocent under section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution.
“Give him a lifeline. Help us build strong institutions, not strong men. I appeal to you, sir, on my bended kneels. Let the milk of human kindness flow in you. Seek ye not vengeance. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath; for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19),” he added.