The National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered the Nigerian Army Council to immediately reinstate Brigadier-General Abubakar Hanafi Saad who was compulsorily retired in 2016.
The military officer was among the 38 Army Officers that were compulsorily retired on 9 June 2016 without any cogent reason.
The court ordered that the Army General be paid all his salaries, allowances and emoluments from the day he was unlawfully, compulsorily retired to 2019 when he ought to have retired, having put in mandatory 35 years in the service of the Nigerian Army.
Delivering judgement in a suit instituted by the aggrieved officer, the President of the Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip, held that the compulsory retirement via a letter issued to him in June 2016 ran foul of the provisions of the Nigerian Armed Forces Act.
The judge said that contrary to the provisions of the Act, the letter of the purported compulsory retirement did not give any reason known to law or followed due process of the law.
Justice Kanyip in the judgement that lasted over an hour specifically held that the compulsory retirement letter dated June 9, 2016, and delivered to the General on June 10, 2016, is null and void and of no effect, because it was in contravention of the provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
The judge consequently voided the letter, set it aside and ordered that General Saad be reinstated into his rank of Brigadier-General with immediate effect.
Justice Kanyip dismissed the allegation of committing a serious offence brought against the plaintiff in the course of the hearing, ruling that the allegation can’t stand in the eyes of the law because it was not contained in the letter that saw the general out of service.
The court also dismissed the claim of the Nigerian Army that the discharge of the plaintiff was at the pleasure of the Chief of Army Staff, ruling also that as a Brigadier-General, his employment is statutory and He cannot be discharged at the pleasure of the Chief of Army Staff.
Justice Kanyip held that the letter, tendered as exhibit 16 by the plaintiff, was clear to the effect that he was compulsorily retired from the Army and that the exhibit did not state any serious offence for which that decision was taken by the Army Authorities.
The judge further said that that the burden of proving that the plaintiff committed a serious offence had to be established by the defendant, adding that throughout the trial of the matter, none of the defendants came up to discharge the burden of establishing that the plaintiff ever committed any offence.
Justice Kanyip said the defendants only helped to reinforce what the plaintiff successfully and satisfactorily established, that he was unlawfully, compulsorily retired and that the allegation by the defendants on the alleged serious offence is untenable.
General Saad had on September 7, 2016 dragged the Nigerian Army and four others before the court to challenge the validity of his compulsory retirement without following due processes of the law.
In the suit instituted by his counsel, Mohammed Adelodun, the plaintiff had prayed the court to order his reinstatement, payment of his salaries, allowances and emoluments and to also direct the defendants to promote him to the next rank of Major-General.
Apart from the Nigerian Army, other defendants in the suit are the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Minister of Defence, and the Nigerian Army Council.
Brigadier General Abubakar Sadeeq Hanafi Sa’ad, a former Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) was among the Army Generals that were ‘arbitrarily’ sacked by the Nigerian Army in 2016 and technically eased out of the service recently, despite interventions of Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.
PRNigeria reports that 16 affected military generals have reached their run out dates of service this year and cannot be reinstated into the military even after the resolutions of the National Assembly and several court rulings which have been flagrantly ignored by the Nigerian Army.
PRNigeria had reported that General Saad might have stepped on toes by setting up a panel to probe the misconduct of some military officers during 2014-15 elections.
As DMI, General Saad handled the case of one Captain AS Koli, who returned from self-exile after the Ekiti election saga in 2015.
He set up a Board of Investigation (BOI) to probe Koli’s going on AWOL as well as all issues related to the military’s conduct in the Ekiti and Osun elections of 2014.
The BOI was set up under the chairmanship of Major General Oyebade. Thus, he was pivotal to the setting up of the Oyebade Panel that sat at 1 Division, Kaduna.
Though he was recommended for promotion to Major-General in 2015, his name was removed from the promotion list at the Army Council. He was subsequently removed as DMI and posted to Defence Headquarters (DHQ) where he was compulsorily retired, five months later, without any charge for any wrongdoing.