West African regional bloc Ecowas ruled on Monday it will hear the case of Nigeria’s ex-national security advisor Sambo Dasuki, who claims he has been unlawfully arrested and detained without trial.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) court set aside the Nigerian government’s objections to it taking the case, saying the matter dealt with “fundamental” human rights issues.
Dasuki, on trial for fraud in connection with the alleged looting of millions of dollars from arms contracts, has been detained since December despite being granted bail.
“From the totality of the issues brought before this court, it is clear and there is no ambiguity that the applicant is seeking enforcement of his right to freedom,” said judge on Friday Chijoke Nwoke.
“In our opinion, what Dasuki brought before us as a case is an issue for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to liberty.”
The Ecowas decision to hear Dasuki’s case comes less than a week after an Abuja court directed the Nigerian government to allow the former security chief access to his lawyers.
“This government needs to take more seriously the judicial process,” human rights lawyer Clement Nwankwo told AFP. “When it fails to do so, it discredits any trial that it conducts.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was voted into power on an anti-corruption platform, vowing to stamp out endemic graft in Africa’s largest economy.
The country’s anti-graft agency has since levelled fraud charges against several high-profile politicians but none of them has yet been convicted.