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Court fines Nigerian army over wrongful dismissal

The Nigerian army has again been fined N10,000 for failing to open its defence in a case brought against it by a dismissed military officer, Mohammed Suleiman.

The ruling comes after a previous adjournment by the court, at the instance of the army, was ‘abused’ by the defence team.

The directive is the second one by the judge, Sanusi Kado, in the matter after the applicant closed his case in June 2018.

Mr Suleiman; a retired army colonel, was sacked alongside 38 military officers including army generals in 2016 without a fair hearing.

Many of the affected officers have approached the National Industrial Court to challenge their dismissal.

Although the Nigerian army accused the officers of official misconduct and partisanship, the allegations have not been proven in court.

Rather, witnesses who appeared in court said the Nigerian army decided to sack the officers for failing to renew their employment contracts.

The court urged the defendants to open their case after Mr Suleiman closed his in June.

But the army requested an adjournment to allow it to present an officer, Abba Goni, who was said to have been transferred from Abuja.

In October, the court presided over by Mr Kado awarded a cost of N20,000 against the army for failing to present the said witness.

According to the applicants, that directive has not been obeyed by the defendants.

After the October directive, the matter was then adjourned till December 3 for the defence to open its case and present its witness.

On that day, the case could not proceed because the defence counsel said his team was considering changing its witness

On Tuesday however the defence lawyer, Moses Ukachukwu, again demanded a further adjournment because his clients “need to put their house in order”.

The applicant’s lawyer, Samuel Zibiri, asked the court to foreclose the defence case and proceed to deliver its ruling.

But the court allowed the application of the defence.

It subsequently adjourned the matter till April 15 after issuing a directive that the defence team pay N10,000 to the applicants.


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