Appeal Court affirms judgement ordering reinstatement of colonel

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, affirmed a court judgement reinstating a colonel compulsorily retired along with 37 Army officers in 2016.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal filed against the lower court’s judgement by the Army authorities.

The National Industrial Court in Abuja had in its judgement delivered on January 9, 2019 ordered the reinstatement of Danladi Hassan, a colonel, who was wrongfully retired compulsorily along with 37 others in 2016.

According to PR Nigeria, the trial judge, Sanusi Kado of the National Industrial Court, had held that the Nigerian Army failed to convince the court about the disciplinary grounds for the compulsory retirement of the claimant.

He declared the letter of compulsory retirement null and void and of no effect.

Rather than comply with the industrial court’s verdict, the Army authorities comprising, Nigerian Army itself, the Nigerian Army Council, the Chief of Army Staff, the Armed Forces Council, and others, opted to appeal against the decision.

But, dismissing the appeal and affirming the industrial court’s decision on Friday, Stephen Adah, who read the lead judgement of the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, held that the appellants’ case lacked merit.

PR Nigeria reports that the Court of Appeal held that the appellants failed to justify their claim that the lower court’s verdict was perverse. The findings of the Court of Appeal showed that the lower court’s decision was based on the evidence presented before it by parties, Mr Adah said.

The court also dismissed the technical argument of the appellants that Mr Hassan’s case before the lower court was incompetent. It held that contrary to the appellants’ claim, Mr Hassan complied with the condition precedent as required under Section 178 of the Armed Forces Act, before approaching the court.

“The lower court had elaborate consideration of all the facts, both from the accusers, the accused person and their witnesses before coming to the conclusion that the exercise of compulsory retirement was done in error.

“It was in that respect that the court now held that the compulsory retirement of the claimant was declared null and void; letter of compulsory retirement also set aside and he was ordered to be reinstated and a letter issued to that effect, reinstating him into the Nigerian Army with all rights and privileges.

“There is no piece of evidence that is contrary to what the court has said. So, there is nothing that is perverse by the findings of the lower court,” PR Nigeria quoted Mr Adah as ruling on Friday.

The Court of Appeal added that an appellate court would not interfere with the findings of the lower court where the lower court has made correct and straightforward findings of facts”.

ALSO READ: Court nullifies dismissal of Army General

“The trial court did excellently well in this case, and we have no need to interfere with the findings of the court.

“It is in this respect that we come to the conclusion that this appeal is lacking in merit. It is grossly lacking in merit, and it is hereby dismissed.

“The decision of the lower court is upheld and all the decisions made therein, are also sustained,” Mr Adah added.

The Court of Appeal’s judgement came about three weeks after the National Industrial Court ordered the reinstatement of A.S.H. Sa’ad, a brigadier general, who was one of the 38 officers wrongly dismissed by Army authorities in 2016.

Background

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Messrs Saad and Hassan along with 36 others were forced out of service without recourse to the rules of disengagement in the Nigerian military.

Most of the affected officers were neither queried nor indicted by any panel, but got flushed out for reasons that smack of high-level arbitrariness and witch-hunting by authorities of the army.

The officers subsequently petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, in line with the military’s rules to seek redress.

But even after petitioning the president, two years after, their fates still hang in the balance.

Mr Buhari has refused to respond to their petitions, raising suspicion that the president was complicit in the illegality that defined the dismissal of the officers.

PRNigeria reports that on August 6 August 2014, the 25 Task Force Brigade led by Mr Hassan carried out a special operation and recaptured the earlier seized towns of Bulabulin and Damboa from the Boko Haram terrorists.

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Mr Hassan, according to the news platform, was the Commander of the 7 Division Garrison responsible for the security of Maiduguri and its environs before he was directed to lead the operation.

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