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General News of Sunday, 31 July 2022

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

Six years after illegal dismissal by army, Nigerian colonel seeks justice

Defense minister, Bashir Magashi Defense minister, Bashir Magashi

Danladi Hassan, one of the 38 army officers arbitrarily sacked, has sought the intervention of the defence minister, Bashir Magashi, after the Nigerian Army refused to obey the court injunction ordering his reinstatement.

Mr Hassan and 37 other senior officers were forced to retire by the army in June 2016. The mass dismissal affected nine major generals, 11 brigadier generals, seven colonels and 11 lieutenant colonels. However, PREMIUM TIMES’ investigations showed the authourities acted illegally, and the National Industrial Court has ordered the reinstatement of Mr Hassan and many others.

On 28 June this year, Mr Hassan’s solicitors submitted a letter on his behalf to Mr Magashi’s office, urging him to prevail on the army to obey the court orders that declared the retirement of their client illegal.

The solicitors reminded Mr Magashi that on 25 January, 2022, they had forwarded the judgement of the National Industrial Court that set aside the compulsory retirement of Mr Hassan.

“Unfortunately, since the receipt of our letter in January 2022, and the Army Council meeting in March 2022, our client is yet to be reinstated by the Nigerian Army in compliance with the judgement of the court of Appeal, the final arbiter in a matter such as this,” the letter read in part.

The letter noted that Mr Hassan has been subjected to extreme hardship, emotional and psychological trauma for a period of not less than six years and still counting “in disregard of a subsisting and valid judgement of the National Industrial Court, affirmed by the Court of Appeal ordering our client’s reinstatement and payment of his salaries and allowances.”

In 2018, the army first suffered a defeat at the Abuja National Industrial Court in a suit filed by Mr Hassan seeking N1 billion as damages to void his compulsory retirement.

ALSO READ: Five years on, army officers illegally sacked by Buratai still hopeful of justiceThe court would later vindicate the colonel in 2019 after nullifying Mr Hassan’s untimely retirement by the army. The trial judge, Sanusi Kado, had ruled that the Nigerian army failed to convince the court about the disciplinary grounds for the compulsory retirement of Mr Hassan.

The army authorities including, the Nigerian Army Council, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Armed Forces Council, decided to appeal against the decision of the Industrial Court.

In December 2021, however, Stephen Adah, reading the lead judgement of the three-person appeal court panel, ruled that the above appellants lacked merit in their suit.

Mr Hassan was vindicated again.

“The lower court had elaborate consideration of all the facts, both from the accusers, the accused person and their witnesses before coming to the conclusion that the exercise of compulsory retirement was done in error,” the appeal court ruled. “There is no piece of evidence that is contrary to what the court has said. So, there is nothing that is perverse by the findings of the lower court.”

The court also noted that “it was in that respect that the court now held that the compulsory retirement of the claimant was declared null and void; letter of compulsory retirement also set aside and he was ordered to be reinstated and a letter issued to that effect, reinstating him into the Nigerian Army with all rights and privileges”.

Apart from petitioning the minister, the affected officers have repeatedly asked President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene.

The president has never acknowledged this.

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