Lawyer Petitions Buhari over Unlawful Retirement of 38 Army Officers


Martins Ifijeh

The Chief Trial Counsel to the 38 senior army officers compulsorily retired on June 9, 2016 by the federal government, Abdul Muhammed, has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari for what he described as unlawful disengagement from service of the officers.

He said for two years the affected officers have repeatedly requested the Nigeria Army leadership to state the offences which gave rise to the punishment, but that the army leadership has not been able to state the specific offence.

In a statement made available to THISDAY Thursday, the lawyer said the only explanation they have been given was that the punishment came ‘from above’, signifying that President Buhari ordered for the punishment and or retirement of the 38 army officers.

He said: “However, none of these officers has ever had any personal interactions with Mr. President to warrant a decision by the Commander-in-Chief to punish them and without recourse to due process at that.

“Mr. President, you have put out a reputation of being a man of justice, dignity and integrity but you have yet to prove it to all Nigerians in the case of these innocent 38 army officers. In the past two years, grave injustice has been meted to them, and in spite of earlier passionate letters of redress to you as their Commander-in-Chief, you have been curiously silent. Records will bear me out in stating that as counsel I have also written directly to you about their plight. My letters elicited the strangest stance of non-responsiveness to the legitimate respective appeals of these 38 Army Officers, and I was forced to cause the publication of my two previous appeals in open letter format and these letters were duly published in the Daily Trust newspaper of July 6, 2017 and October 31, 2017 respectively.”

He said it was sad that that nothing has been done for over two years to review the serious injustice that the troika of Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Mansur Dan-Alli, Chief of Defence Staff, General AG Olonsakin and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai meted to the officers.

He noted that none of the 38 senior officers compulsorily retired was at any time ever charged, tried by a court martial or found guilty of any offence in line with Armed Forces extant rules and regulations, before they respectively heard of their retirement in the media.

“After the very public dismissal of the 38 senior army officers, the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Army Staff went to the media with the narrative that the 38 army officers were professionally corrupt and that these officers were punished after due process. These are untrue statements because the dismissed officers we never indicted or found culpable at all and there was a complete failure to follow the processes laid down by the Nigeria Army with respect to these wrongful and illegal dismissals.

“Sir, whereas it has been eerie silence from Your Excellency despite the several letter(s) of redress from the 38 Army Officers, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have given a hearing to petitions of members of the Army 38. The Nigerian Congress through their respective Public Petition Committees after their respective investigations of the matter had admonished the Nigerian Army over arbitrary disengagement of officers, as this action would discourage serving officers and soldiers from giving their full commitment to the service of the nation.

Mohammed explained that both chambers of the National Assembly have recommended immediate reinstatement of the officers as they were found to have done no wrong.

He therefore, urged President Buhari to review the lingering injustice that has been perpetuated by the army leadership against his clients