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Court orders reinstatement of illegally dismissed army officer

Shari’ah court

A National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered the reinstatement of Lt. Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed, who the court held was illegally dismissed by the Nigerian Army in 2016.

The army had in June, 2016 announced the compulsory retirement of 38 officers on different ranks on the grounds of alleged professional misconduct during the 2015 general elections, as well as involvement in the $2.1 billion arms procurement scandal.

The purge affected nine Major Generals, ten Brigadier-Generals, seven Colonels, eleven Lieutenant Colonels and one Major.

Several of the affected officers, including Lt. Col. Mohammed, had subsequently instituted suits individually against the Nigerian Army; the Nigerian Army Council; the Chief of Army Staff; Armed Forces Council; Chief of Defence Staff; and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Others listed as defendants are: Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd); Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and Maj. Gen. Mohammed Garuba.

Lt. Col. Mohammed, through his lawyer, Abdul Muhammed, told the court that the defendants breached the provisions of chapter IV of the constitution with regard to him and as a direct and proximate result thereof, he has suffered substantial losses.

He claimed that the army violated its own rules and laws with the compulsory retirement, noting that while the reason(s) for the said retirement was said to be based on “disciplinary grounds i.e. serious offences”, by not following the procedures as laid down in the Armed Forces Act (AFA), the said retirement offended the statutory provisions of the act.

Delivering judgement in the suit yesterday, Justice Rekiya Hastrup held that the compulsory retirement of the complainant was unlawful, null and void. She added that the letter of retirement issued to the complainant on June 9, 2016 was also null and void.

The judge held that the actions of the defendants “are thereby null and void and accordingly set aside. The claimant is hereby reinstated to his position with all benefit.”

Justice Hastrup further awarded the cost of N200,000 in favour of the claimant.

After the judgment, the judge informed the counsels to the defendants, Dauda Sani Abdulrahman and Ibrahim Etsu, to advised their clients to immediately comply with the order of the court and reinstate the complainant with all his benefits.

Daily Trust recalls that another judge of the court, Justice Sanusi Kado, also ordered the reinstatement of one of the dismissed officers, Colonel Danladi Ribah Hassan, in 2019. The same judge has fixed January 23 for judgment in a similar case instituted by Colonel Mohammed Auwal Suleiman, another officer affected by the June, 2016 purge in the Army.

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