Court orders reinstatement of soldier 14 years after dismissal

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, on Tuesday nullified the dismissal of Lance Cpl. Abdul Umar from the Nigerian Army and ordered his immediate reinstatement.

Court orders reinstatement of soldier 14 years after dismissal. [NAN]

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are the Armed Forces Council, Chief of Defence Staff, and Minister of Defence.

Delivering judgment, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi held that the summary dismissal of the claimant was done in excess of the powers conferred on the Commanding officer.

The judge further said that there was no evidence to show that the claimant was allowed to make personal or legal representation before he was convicted.

She described the action as ”an act that offends the principle of natural justice”.

Oyewumi therefore dismissed the objections of the defendants, for lacking merit and said the trial was done in violation of the rules of natural justice as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended and cannot be the foundation of any action.

“The fact that the claimant was rightly brought before the Commanding Officer will not excuse the defendants from the consequences of non-compliance with the stipulated procedures”

“Any act which occasioned miscarriage of justice against a party should not be allowed to stand,” she ruled.

The judge also ordered the payment of the claimant’s salaries and allowances from Sept. 20, 2007 till date.

The court in addition awarded the sum of N1million in favour of the claimant.

From facts, the claimant, through his counsel Michael Ukachukwu in his complaint dated Feb.24 submitted and contended that his trial was conducted against legal standard.

He added that his client was not given fair hearing as the claimant with his other dismissed colleagues wrote several letters of appeal to the authorities but, to no avail.

Ukachukwu equally averred that the offence under which the claimant was charged, can only be tried by a Court Martial and not summary trial.

In defence, the defendant asserted that the claimant’s summary trial and subsequent dismissal was in accordance with the laid down procedure in the military.

Defence also argued that the dismissal was in accordance with applicable laws, procedures and was allowed to defend himself after which he was found culpable.

The defence equally objected that there was no cause of action against them and that the suit was statute-barred having been brought outside the statutory period of three months.

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