The compulsory retirement slammed on Colonel Mohammed Auwal Suleman, a serving military intelligence officer, by the Nigerian Army Council in June 2016 has been voided and set aside by a law court.
The court discarded the mischievous claim of the Nigerian Army that Colonel Suleman ought to serve 18 years only in the military service.
Colonel Suleman, a multi-award-winning counter-insurgency officer, had served diligently in the Presidential Guard, Military Intelligence Unit and coordinated the activities of the Anti-Terrorism Joint Taskforce that recovered many towns from Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East in addition to his international posting where he received numerous recognitions and awards, according to PRNigeria.
The National Industrial Court in a judgment in Abuja ordered the Nigerian Army Council to immediately reinstate Colonel Suleman to the position he was in 2016 when the purported compulsory retirement was carried.
In addition, the court ordered the NAC to pay all his salaries and allowances due to him from 2016 till date.
Delivering judgment in a suit instituted by Colonel Suleman against the Nigerian Army and eight others, Justice Sanusi Kado held that the purported retirement effected through a letter on June 9, 2016 was unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.
Justice Kado rejected the claim that the army officer was compulsorily retired from the military on account of overstay of 18 years in service, adding that there was no evidence to the falsehood adduced to justify the unlawful act of the army.
The judge in the ruling, which lasted over an hour, took a swipe at the NAC for breaching the doctrine of fair hearing in the case of Suleman, adding that it was more surprising that the plaintiff was compulsorily retired without being court-martial, charged with any known offence, issued with query or indicted before the purported retirement was carried out.
Justice Kado rejected the evidence given by the only witness of the army council, David Igodalo, to the effect that the colonel was compulsorily retired because he overstayed beyond the 18 years he ought to have stayed in the Army and thus allegedly breach Section 30 of the Nigerian Army Council Act.
The judge noted that the witness lacked knowledge of the case of the plaintiff and was not a reliable witness because throughout his evidence he never drew the attention of the court to the condition of service that stipulated that the colonel was to serve only 18 years.
Justice Kado further held that the claim of the colonel that he had served for 25 years and nine month diligently and received accolades nationally and internationally was not disputed by the Nigerian Army and therefore there was no lawful reason to justify the allegation of serious offence in the purported letter of compulsory retirement.
The court agreed with counsel to the plaintiff, Olayinka Adedeji, that the purported compulsory retirement was done in bad faith and ought not to be allowed to stand in the face of the law.
Consequently, Justice Kado declared the purported retirement and the letter as null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Reacting to the judgment, Olayinka Adedeji thanked the court for doing justice to the case of his client and expressed optimism that the Nigerian Army Council as a creation of the law would respect and obey the ruling.