Ex-Staff Seargent Seeks Army Chief’s Intervention over Wrongful Dismissal

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Faruk Yahaya

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Faruk Yahaya

*Appeals for payment of gratuity, pension

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

A former Staff Sergeant of the Nigerian Army, Sunday Agbogun, has appealed to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Faruk Yahaya, to revisit his wrongful dismissal from the Nigerian Army.

In a letter of appeal written to the army chief,  Agbogun appealed to the army high command to effect the payment of  his gratuities and pension after 25 years of service.

The letters written on his behalf by the the law firms of EO Amadi Chambers and GB Pepple & Associates, pleaded with the army chief to consider the payment of his pension and gratuities.

The law firms stated that Agbogun was wrongfully dismissed after an offence he allegedly committed with two other army personnel.

It said Agbogun was exonerated of the alleged offence while the other two, who were later indicted, were instead set free while he was dismissed.

“We are solicitors to SSGT. Sunday Agbogun, (who shall: be referred hereafter as “our client”) on whose instructions we make this passionate appeal for redress of his wrongful, premature dismissal from the Nigerian Army. 

Our client has informed us that he was enlisted into the Nigerian Army in 1968 as a constable with enlistment numbers 63 NA/159887. That in 1975, he was transferred to the Headquarters of 

Air Mobile Brigade, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he served in various capacities until his unceremonious dismissal from the Nigerian Army for no just cause. 

“Our client further informed us that sometime in 1987 that he and two others to wit, WOII Adewale Olashe (as he was then known) and Seargent Rufus (as he was then known) were arrested by intelligence personnel of the army for impersonation and extortion of money from one Mr Chevrotin, an expatriate civilian at Geo Services Ltd on Trans Amadi Road, Port Harcourt”, the petition said.

The law firms said the affected officer and two others were accused of extortion and subjected to the military justice system after which he was exonerated while his colleagues were indicted.

To his chagrin, he was later dismissed while his indicted colleagues continued in service.

“According to our client, they were informed of a report that some persons, who claimed to be men from military intelligence extorted the sum of N6,000.00  from the said expatriate with Sergeant Rufus’ car. Our client denied his involvement and or knowledge of the incident alleged, that despite his non-involvement of the said allegation, he along with two others were subsequently detained. 

“It is part of our brief that the following day, an identification parade was conducted on our client and others wherein the expatriate identified WOII Adewale Olashe as the person, who claimed to be the intelligence officer that the other person, that is our client, was not part of the squad. 

“In fact, the white expatriate stated further that he had never seen our client and Sergeant Rufus before. Amazingly, despite the statement and or identification parade exonerating our client, he was detained. Some days later, whilst in the detention, our client and others were released but with a mandate to produce the civilian (Mr. Uche) who was with WOII Adewale Olashe when the money was extorted from the white expatriate. 

“Our client found Mr. Uche, who admitted receiving unspecified amount from the expatriate (Mr. Chevrotin) and further promised to refund same. Mr. Uche was subsequently released from detention”, the law firms affirmed. 

The letter of appeal traced his ordeal to where he was charged with the offence of impersonation and extortion.

“On January 8, 1988, our client was charged with the offence of impersonation and extortion before Lt. Col Charles (the Commander in Charge of the Brigade as at that time and the Garrison Adjutant, after the charge was read to our client, Lt. Col Edemenetta asked our client the whereabouts of the said 

Mr. Uche and thereafter found our client guilty of the offences in the charge, as he (our client) was held not to have a convincing answer, consequently, our client was sentenced to six months imprisonment. 

“Also, our client was summarily dismissed from the Nigerian Army without being given any fair trial as the rules of natural justice demands. It is part of our brief  that throughout the investigation or trial, our client was never allowed to make any statement, whether oral or written, or call any witness, or give evidence before he was pronounced guilty. 

Whereas, sergeant Rufus and Warrant Officer II Adewale Olashe, who were arrested along with our client were discharged and acquitted of all the allegations”, it said. 

Following the dismissal, Agbogun petitioned the ruling of the military tribunal.

“Our client was obviously dissatisfied with the conduct of his trial. He subsequently wrote a petition dated January 18, 1988, which clearly showed areas where the Col. Edemanetta-led tribunal erred and the need for a review of the judgment of our client and reinstatement into the army, but nothing has been done to that effect till this moment.

“Our client stated that he served the prison terms of six  months. 

On July 5, 1988, one Captain A.Y Abass (as he then was known), who initially investigated the complaint personally wrote to the officers in the legal department, urging them to review our client’s case. The said letter was addressed to Captain Ahmadu (as he then was known) and copied to Col. Ayinla (as he then was known), the Adjutant General, also ordered that our client’s case be reconsidered”, it said.

The letter of appeal further noted that the said Captain A.Y Abass also forwarded a memorandum for the case be reconsidered in the interest of justice coupled with fact that the prime suspect WO11 Adewale Olashe was acquitted of the charges. 

“Furthermore, the commanding officer of the 2 Air Mobile Brigade, Port Harcourt, made passionate appeals to the Headquarters of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army vide letters dated May 2, 1989 and  May, 15, 1989, respectively, urging that our client be reinstated  as it was evident that our client was not given a fair trial. All these efforts were to no avail.

“To the chagrin and consternation of our client, Col, J.I Ayinia (as he was then known) on behalf of the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, wrote a letter to the Adjutant-General urging him to consider our client’s case closed and also attached documents allegedly implicating our client inter alia, of cocaine trafficking, a very serious allegation which our client till then, knew nothing about”, it said.

“Consequently, upon the foregoing, the army chief wrote to the Nigerian Police Force to investigate the allegation. Our client was completely exonerated of the allegation and or complicity in the offences by the Nigerian Police Force. It was found that the allegation was a deliberate falsehood. 

“It came to our client as a surprise that he was suddenly alleged to have been involved in series of crimes, to wit: offence of fraud and cocaine trafficking, (our client was never charged for this offence; in fact he was cleared by the police of this allegation, extortion of the surn of N8,000 from one Mr. Paul Bzeagu on August 27, 1988. (He was not also charged for this alleged offence and was cleared as well”, it said.

He was also accused of involvement in extortion of N6,000 from the expatriate (Mr. Chevrotin). “It must be stated unequivocally that our client was never charged for the above-mentioned offences, neither was our client given any fair hearing in his own defence. He simply received an outright dismissal”.

The law firms, therefore, appealed to the military high command to reconsider the case of Staff Seargent Agbogun.

“We hereby make this passionate appeal for reconsideration of our client’s case  which is a most pathetic one. Our client has never been found wanting of any offence since he joined the Nigerian army, until 1988 when he was dismissed without a fair trial and the basis of concocted and fabricated allegations. 

“Though our client earlier instituted an action against his unlawful dismissal and inhuman treatment but he subsequently withdrew the suit based on his avowed belief that his case would be fairly treated with due consideration. 

“Having served his country meritoriously for over 20 years, we believe our client deserves better treatment than the predicament he has been subjected to. 

“We, therefore, humbly urge that you use your good offices  to ensure that our client’s case is attended to and  his gratuities,  pension and other benefits are duly considered”, it said.

The law firms also appealed on behalf of staff sergeant Sunday Agbogun that  in the alternative, “our client’s purported dismissal should be commuted to be voluntary retirement and be adequately  compensated for the psychological trauma he has suffered all these years. 

We humbly urge that you kindly ensure that the justice of this case is not only done but be seen to have been manifestly done”.

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