Nigeria’s attorney-general and justice minister Abubakar Malami has said the release of a former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore from detention was because the government had compassion on the duo.
“The only reasons for the release of Omoyele Sowore and Sambo Dasuki revolved around our commitment to the rule of law, obedience to court orders and compassionate grounds,” Malami said in an interview with the BBC Hausa and the Hausa Service of the Voice of America.
“It is important to understand the fact that as far as the law is concerned and in relation to the Nigerian justice system, one has multiple options after a court has ruled on a matter.”
Amidst calls and protest for their release and others in continued detention by Nigerians and the international community, Malami on Tuesday ordered their release on Tuesday, December 24.
Prior to his release, Dasuki was detained for over four years in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) despite four court orders that granted him bail.
Dasuki was tried for alleged misappropriation of N19.4 billion arms funds while in government.
Sowore, on the other hand, was arrested on Saturday, August 3 for calling for a protest tagged #RevolutionNow which the Nigerian government said was a plot to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari.
Two courts had granted Sowore bail months before his release on Christmas eve.
But Malami said the decision to keep Sowore and Dasuki in detention despite the court orders for their bail was based on government’s suspicion of their offences through legal means.
“…there was no room for thinking of witch-hunting an individual, scoring acrimonies or personal vendetta against anyone,” Malami.
Three days before their release, six United States lawmakers- Robert Menendez, Charles Schumer, Christopher Coons, Cory Booker, Bill Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer wrote Malami a letter of concern over Nigeria’s disregard for court orders.
The US lawmakers warned that Nigeria risks tarnishing its international reputation over Sowore’s indefinite detention and that “it will best serve Nigeria’s interests to protect and uphold the very legal systems that provide for stability and open dialogue.”
Malami denied receiving the letter from the lawmakers and played claims that the government bowed to pressure from the United States lawmakers who had threatened to review America’s relationship with Nigeria.
“(Even) if we received any communication from them that will never be the basis on the part of the Federal Government to obey or disobey court orders emanating from Nigeria,” Malami said.
He maintained that FG has the right to keep detaining the suspects while challenging the order admitting them to bail up to the apex court.