Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has admitted detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), to bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in the like sum.
Dasuki has been in custody of the Department of State Service (DSS) for nearly four years without a valid court order, and has not been arraigned for a fresh charge after four different courts, including the ECOWAS Court of Justice, had ordered his release.
A three-member panel of the Justices of the Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment berated the DSS for keeping Dasuki for that long without taking him to court and filing fresh charges against him.
The panel led by Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson declared Dasuki’s detention since December 29, 2015, by the DSS as illegal, unconstitutional, and accordingly slammed a N5million damages against the government agency for the said ‘illegal’ act.
The said amount to be paid to Dasuki is to compensate him for breaching his fundamental right.
Meanwhile, the two sureties shall be serving public servants not below the status of level 16 officers in either state or public service of the federal government or any of its agencies, and shall produce a valid document of his or her status to the registrar of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Each surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the high court, and other physical address must be verified by the court registrar and shall also produce two recent passport size photographs in addition to deposing to affidavit of means.
Each of the sureties shall furnish evidence of ownership of property in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) worth N100million.
The appeal court, however, ordered that the DSS and its Director General should not detain Dasuki again, and that whenever he is required on any allegation, it must be conducted within the working days from 9a.m. to 6p.m. for him to go back home.
The court also ordered that the international passport of the ex-NSA shall remain with the Deputy Chief Register of the high court for the time being.
A Federal high Court Judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, had on July 2, 2018, admitted Dasuki to bail on conditions which the NSA complained to be too harsh and stringent for his family to perfect, especially the deposit of N100million to the high court registrar by his sureties before he can be released on bail.
The appellate court, however, set aside the harsh and stringent bail conditions of the trial judge for being outlandish, and replaced them with the fresh ones.
The court commended the findings of facts by the judge that Dasuki had been dehumanised by his prolonged detention, but disagreed with her on the refusal to award damages as compensation to assuage the injuries inflicted on the ex-NSA.
“In my avowed view, the learned trial judge misconceived the prayer of the appellant and erroneously interpreted relief 4 for bail as an alternative prayer to relief 7 for damages.
“This error occasioned a miscarriage of Justice by the failure to award damages which is a natural consequence for the finding that the fundamental right of the appellant has been grossly violated; upon which the court heavily denounced the action of the first and second respondents.
The established principle of law as amplified in plethora of authorities is to the effect that award of damages must flow naturally once the court finds that the fundamental right of an individual has been breached with legal justification. The compensation is automatic, and ought to be granted, even when the aggrieved party does not pray for compensation,” he said.
The appeal court, therefore, ordered that Dasuki must be allowed to go home on bail upon his perfection of the fresh bail conditions.
The judgment was endorsed by Justice Peter Olabisi Ige and Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim.
Meanwhile, associates and friends of the detained former NSA, Dasuki, have thronged his family residence in Asokoro, Abuja, eagerly awaiting his release from a four-year detention by the DSS.
The associates predicated their hope for the release on the order issued to that effect by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
Some of the associates who spoke with THISDAY expressed optimism that the presidency would this time around respect the order of court that Dasuki be released immediately he perfect the fresh bail condition.
One of his associates, Alhaji Dahiru Umar, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), pleaded with the presidency to respect the court order as a mark of respect for the rule of law.