Court Orders Army to Reinstate Retired Officer, Mohammed

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Davidson Iriekpen

The National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigerian Army to reinstate Lt. Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed who was compulsorily retired in 2016.

Delivering judgment in the suit filed by the officer, the trial judge, Justice Rakiya Haastrup, declared that his premature retirement was null and void.

She ordered that the colonel be given all his rights and privileges, accordingly.

The Nigerian Army had compulsorily retired Mohammed and 37 others in controversial circumstances on June 9, 2016.

The officers who were compulsorily retired without facing a panel, have all been challenging their fate in court, citing injustice, neglect of due process, and negation of fair hearing.

Mohammed in his suit asked the court to void his compulsory retirement and to order the army to reinstate and pay him compensatory and exemplary damages.

The defendants were the Nigerian Army Council, Chief of Army Staff, Armed Forces Council, Chief of Defence Staff, Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Defence.

Mohammed sought, among others, a declaratory order that his compulsory retirement “constitutes/constituted an unfair and or wrongful dismissal and therefore wrongful, unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, invalid and contrary to the Armed Forces of Nigeria Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers 2012.”

He asked the court to set aside the purported letter of compulsory retirement “for being unlawful, invalid, unconstitutional, void and of no effect whatsoever.”

In a judgment that capped off nearly four years of efforts to get justice, including repeated appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari for redress, Justice Haastrup ordered the Nigerian Army to reinstate Col. Mohammed with immediate effect.

She ruled that the military authorities violated the law Mohammed’s dismissal in 2016.

The judge held that the authorities arbitrarily forced him to retire.

She declared the letter of the army null and void and thereby nullified the compulsory retirement of Mohammed.

“Advise your clients to comply,” Justice Haastrup told the counsel to the defendants after her judgment.