Decision To Detain Dasuki, Sowore Despite Court Orders Backed By Law, Presidency Insists

Akinola Ajibola  
Updated December 26, 2019
Omoyele Sowore                                                                                                                    Sambo Dasuki



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.

DSS Releases Omoyele Sowore
Sambo Dasuki Released After Over Four Years In Detention


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.

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.”

“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.