Court Orders Retired Officer to Initiate Contempt Suit against Olonisakin

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Davidson Iriekpen

The National Industry Court (NIC) in Abuja has issued an order permitting one of the senior officers unlawfully dismissed by the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed, to initiate committal proceedings against the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin.

The court hinged its decision on Olonisakin’s refusal to show evidence that he transmitted the affected officers’ appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The army had in June 2016 forced 38 officers to retire from service.

But most of them were illegally removed from service, the industrial court has repeatedly held.

Paragraph 09.02(e) of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers, 2012 (revised) – provides that any officer compulsorily retired or dismissed can appeal to the president through the Chief of Defence Staff within 30 days.

Following the army’s illegal action, 22 of the affected officers exploited this window and petitioned the president through General Olonisakin, via a July 2016 letter referenced CDS/6/1/A.

However, they are concerned that the defence chief has refused to transmit their petition to the president as required by the law.

The order by Justice Sanusi Kado means that General Olonisakin is “legally obligated and duty bound to transmit” Abdufatai’s appeal to the president for administrative review with proof of doing so.

The case started two years ago when Abdulfatai approached the court for an order of mandamus to compel the Chief of Defence Staff to forward his letter of redress to the Commander-in-Chief, Buhari and show proof of doing so to the court.

In her judgment, Justice Edith Agbakoba not only nullified the compulsory retirement, but ordered that the defence chief should send the appeal for administrative review to the president and accordingly show proof to the court that he had made the transmission.