Court Reinstates Award-Winning Counter-Insurgency Officer, Colonel Suleman
… Rejects Mischievous Army’s Claim of 18 Years Only in Service
The compulsory retirement slammed on a serving military intelligence officer, Colonel Mohammed Auwal Suleman by the Nigerian Army Council in June 2016 has been voided and set aside by a law court.
The Court rejected the mischievous claim of the Nigerian Army that Colonel Suleman ought to serve 18 years only in the military service.
The Nigerian army had in June, 2016 announced the compulsory retirement of 38 officers on different ranks on the grounds of alleged professional misconduct. Several of the affected officers had subsequently instituted suits individually against the Nigerian Army; the Nigerian Army Council; the Chief of Army Staff; Armed Forces Council; Chief of Defence Staff; and the Attorney General of the Federation.
So far, five of the affected military officers have been reinstated by the court of law. The officers reinstated include Maj. Gen. Ijeoma Nwokoro, Colonel Danladi Hassan, Lt. Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed, Lt. Col. Thomas Arigbe and now Colonel Auwal Suleman
Colonel Suleman an 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.
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 Army Council to pay all his salaries and allowances due to him from 2016 till date.
Delivering judgement 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 of 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 Army on account of overstay of 18 years in the service, adding that there was no evidence to the falsehood adduced to justify the unlawful act of the army.
The judge in the judgement that lasted over an hour took swipe at the Army Council for breaching the doctrine of fair hearing in the case of the Army Colonel, 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 giving by the only witness of the army council, David Igodalo to the effect that the colonel was compulsorily retired because he overstayed beyond the eighteen 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.
Rather, Justice Kado held that from the words of the letter of appointment issued to the Colonel upon his commissioning as an Army Officer in 1995, the appointment has flavour of statutory and guided by the condition of service in the Nigerian Army adding that anything to the contrary as in the reason adduced for the unlawful retirement is a total and clear breach of the law.
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 a “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.
The letter that conveyed the purported compulsory was voided and set aside by the judge with an order that all his salary and entitlement must be paid to me forthwith.
PRNigeria gathered that before his compulsory retirement, the Nigerian military and intelligence services had relied on Suleman in countering terrorism. His appointment as Deputy Chief of Operations to the United Nations Mission in Darfur and as Deputy Defence Adviser to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington in 2011 and 2012 respectively were abruptly cancelled because he was key to Nigeria’s counter-terrorism operations in the North East.
Before he was forced out of service without a query or indictment for any offence,
Colonel Suleman had led a joint army-police team that cleared and arrested 377 terrorists with scores killed with no casualty to own troops in 2009. He was instrumental to the creation of a Civilian Joint Task Force and control their activities in the North-East. He even Broke the terrorists’ cell when the insurgents attempted to attack the Aso Rock Villa.
In recognition of his outstanding peacekeeping and successful security operations, he has received several national and international awards including the national honour of a Member of the Federal Republic, MFR.
Reacting to the judgement, 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 judgement.