Court Case of Sacked Nigerian soldiers stalls again

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The Nigerian Army has again compelled the postponement of a lawsuit over the dismissal of military officers in 2016.

Following the controversial sack of over 30 military officers, including some generals, without facing a panel of investigation into their alleged offences as required by law, the officers filed various applications, asking the National Industrial Court to nullify their dismissal.

While a number of the applications are progressing in the court, some have been frustrated by the army, after reaching the expected date of judgement.

In one of the motions brought by a dismissed colonel, Mohammed Suleiman, the Nigerian Army was punished at the last adjourned date for failing to provide its defence witness, without good reason.

The court ordered the army to pay a fine of N20, 000 for making unacceptable excuses for the absence of its witness, after the applicant counsel, Olayinka Adedeji notified the court of the witness was in town, contrary to a claim by the defence that their witness was not in Abuja.

When the matter resumed on Monday, the lawyer representing the army informed the court that the expected witness, ‘Captain Goni,’ had been posted to Monguno in Borno State.

The lawyer, who introduced himself as I. I. Igele, asked the court for a further adjournment to allow his client attend the trial.

Mr Igele, who said he was representing another lawyer, Moses Ukachukwu informed the court about his recent application for extended time, dated November, 30.

He explained that the reason for the application is because of the recent posting of his witness and in order to allow for time during which Captain Goni will attend the hearing and testify.

In a response, Mr Suleiman’s lawyer, Olayinka Adedeji confirmed knowledge of the witness’ transfer, but added that the current application cannot be brought by the defence, since they have failed in complying with the order for the payment of fine, which was made in October.

Ms Adedeji recalled the situation which resulted in the court order for the army to pay a fine of N20, 000 and added that the posting document seen by the applicant’s team has shown that the defence witness was indeed in Abuja during the date of the previous adjournment.

“My Lord, the application of for extended time. But they cannot bring such an application until they have complied with the orders of this court.

“I recall saying during the last sitting in October that the witness, Captain Goni is seated at the office and his car parked at the parking lot.

“I have seen the document showing the details of the posting of the defence witness and it shows that he was only posted on November, 5.”

Ms Adedeji than asked the court to foreclose the defence team on the grounds that they were allegedly acting with the motive to delay the trial unnecessarily.

“My Lord we shall be asking the court to foreclose the defence. Whenever they have another witness, they can bring the witness and make an application and the application will be considered in line with the new witness.”

In a short ruling however the court, presided over by a judge, Sanusi Kado, said it would grant the requested adjournment to ensure fair hearing for both parties.

The court said the submission of parties including Ms Adedeji had shown that the witness was indeed transferred and it would therefore be unfair for the court to neglect the recent developments regarding the said witness.

The court adjourned till February 26, for further hearing.

Published by depatridge

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