By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Abuja division, yesterday ordered the immediate reinstatement of army officer, Colonel Muhammed Suleiman, who had been retired from the Nigerian Army.
Subsequently, the court ordered the reinstatement of Colonel Suleiman to his rank in the Nigerian Army before he was disengaged in June 9, 2016.
The judge also ordered the payment of all his entitlements from the day he was compulsorily retired till date.
Suleiman is among the 38 officers of the Nigerian Army disengaged from service in 2016.
The Industrial Court had previously ordered the army to reinstate four other affected officers – Major General Nwokoro Ijeoma, Colonel Danladi Hassan, as well as Lieutenant Colonels Abdulfatai Mohammed and Thomas Arigbe.
Justice Sanusi Kado held that Suleiman’s disengagement by the Nigerian Army via a letter of compulsory retirement in 2016, was ultra vires, illegal, unlawful, null and void.
Suleiman had approached the court to challenge his unlawful dismissal from service on grounds that the army did not follow laid down procedure before relieving him of his service.
Delivering judgment in the suit with number NICN/ABJ/315/16, the judge held that it was not at the behest of the army to hire and fire, adding that once an employment enjoys statutory flavour, appropriate steps in line with the law governing that employment must be taken to bring such relationship to an end.
Justice Kado said that having not followed its own rules and guidelines of employment, the action of the army in retiring the claimant was unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
He stated that although the army had cited serious disciplinary offences as grounds for compulsorily retiring the claimant, it nevertheless failed to prove any of such offences said to have been committed by the claimant.
Moreover, the court added that claim of having over-stayed in office, which the defendant described as a serious disciplinary offence, was not stated in the letter disengaging the claimant from office.