I saw a post online where someone was trying to justify the AG’s comment that Dasaki cannot be released even after being granted bail by a court of competent jurisdiction. The Supreme Court Case of ALHAJI MUJAHID DOKUBO-ASARI V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2007) LPELR-958(SC) was mention to support this.
Please do note that I said mentioned. The case was just mentioned casually and the writer went on to state that this case supports the AG’s action. No word, sentence or paragraph of the said case was quoted to buttress this assertion.
Well, I couldn’t tell if the writer is a lawyer, but I assumed he is not. No lawyer worth a pinch of salt will mention a Supreme Court decision so ignorantly.
Now, let’s get some issues straight.
In the said Supreme Court decision Asari Dokubo, who was represented by Festus Keyamo, was denied bail at the trial court, that’s the Federal High Court. One of the grounds given by the judge for denying him bail was that he was a security threat. Keyamo, on behalf of his client, appealed to the Court of Appeal and then to the Supreme Court. The two courts above refused to temper with the decision of the lower court. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of both the trial court and the Court of Appeal.
The main reason given by the Supreme Court for affirming the trial court decision denying bail to Asari is that bail is basically an exercise of the trial court’s discretion and the Supreme Court is always reluctant to interfere with the exercise of such a discretion.
It is the court that reserves the right to grant or refuse to grant bail. After the court decides one way or the other, any party can proceed to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal and ultimately to the Supreme Court.
In the case of Asari, bail was denied and he instructed his lawyer, Festus Keyamo, the present Spokeman for the Buhari Campaign, to appeal the decision, which he unsuccessfully did. In the instant case, the court has granted Dasuki bail and instead of appealing, the AG is rather explaining why the Government can’t obey a court decision.
Once a court gives a decision against the government or anyone, there are two paths open to the party not satisfied with the said decision: appeal or obey. Period.
Let the Federal Government release Dasuki immediately or appeal. And if finally it gets to the Supreme Court and the court rules on it by affirming the decision of the trial court, the AG must obey it. Trying to give a reason why a court decision cannot be obeyed is political grandstanding and a mortal sin against the justice system.
The case of ALHAJI MUJAHID DOKUBO-ASARI V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, supra, cannot be used to support the illegal action of the AG and the Federal Government. That case might help them when they appeal the decision granting Dasuki bail.
The Attorney General of the Federation is not the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court that can sit in appraisal or further judgement of any judgement of a competent court of law in Nigeria. Well, maybe he thinks he is, and apparently some persons also think he is, that’s why they are already supplying and citing cases to support his action.
If the AG thinks the decision granting bail is wrong then he should appeal the decision or release Dasuki immediately. The AG should remember that it’s unwise to shit on the path leading to the stream when you are on your way to fetch water from the stream; because sooner then later, you will use that same path on your way back from the stream.
If decisions of court are not obeyed then the very fabric that holds our profession together will disintegrate. A government that doesn’t obey court orders can’t administer justice and progress to the people.
First Baba Isa (FBI) is a Legal Practitioner and writes from Abuja.