bY Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Judith Agbakoba of the Abuja division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) on Monday withdrew from hearing of an industrial dispute between Major General Ijioma Ijioma and the Nigerian Army.
Justice Agbakoba who had reserved judgment in the suit for Monday however, recused herself from the matter following allegations of bias by counsel to the Nigerian Army and Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
Ijioma had dragged the Nigerian Army, Buratai and two others to court, challenging his compulsory retirement from the Nigerian Army in 2015, after serving for 32years, 11 months and 5 days.
In the suit marked NICN/ABJ/262/2016, the plaintiff while asking the court to declare his compulsory retirement unlawful, illegal, null and void, wants the court to order that he be reinstated into the Nigerian Army.
When the matter was called, counsel to the Nigerian Army and Chief of Army Staff, Michael Owolabi, stood up to inform the court of two applications: one asking the court to stay proceedings pending the hearing and determination of the appeal filed by the defendants, and the other requesting the court to recuse itself from further hearing of the suit on grounds that the defendants have lost confidence in the court to do justice in the matter.
The defendants predicated their allegations of bias on the grounds that the judge foreclosed them from presenting their witnesses to support their defence in the matter.
Responding, counsel to the complainant urged the court to go ahead with the day’s schedule and ignore the defendants, stating that if the President of the National Industrial Court had wanted her to discontinue the case he would have done so since the petition against the court was filed since October 31.
However, Justice Agbakoba, acceded to the demand of the defendants and recused herself from the matter stating that she can not continue since the defendants have lost confidence in her court.