The Nigerian Army has lost its bid to upturn a judgment compelling it to reinstate Colonel Danladi Ribah Hassan, who was wrongly retired compulsorily retired in 2016.
A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the Nigerian Army appeal in a judgment on Friday in Abuja.
It said the appeal by the Nigerian Army, former Chief of Army Staff and others lacked merit.
PRNigeria in October reported that (https://prnigeria.com/2021/10/24/injustice-nigerian-army/) the Nigerian Army had refused to obey an order of the National Industrial Court for the reinstatement of Hassan, a military Commander who led troops in recapturing Bulabulin and Damboa, both in Borno state, from Boko Haram in August 2014.
The National Industrial Court in Abuja had in January 2019 ordered the immediate reinstatement of Colonel Hassan, one of the 38 officers compulsorily retired in 2016 by the Nigerian Army for no obvious reasons.
The trial judge, Justice Sanusi Kado, had held that with the failure of the Nigerian Army to convince the court of the disciplinary ground for compulsorily retiring the claimant, the said letter of compulsory retirement was null and void and of no effect.
A series of reminders and correspondence for the reinstatement of the officer were rebuffed by the Army authorities, who appealed the judgement.
Meanwhile, the appellate court, in a unanimous judgment on Friday, read by Justice Stephen Adah, resolved the two issues, raised for determination, against the appellants and upheld the judgment of the National Industrial Court delivered in favour of Hassan on January 8, 2019.
The judgment was on the appeal marked: CA/A/299/2019, filed by the NA, Nigerian Army Council, COAS, Armed Forces Council, Chief of Defence Staff, Minister of Defence, retired Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai (ex-COAS) and Major General Mohammed Hong Garba.
Listed as respondents were Hassan and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The Appeal Court, in dismissing the appeal by the Nigerian Army and others on Friday, held that as against the claim by the appellants, Hassan complied with the condition precedent, as required under Section 178 of the Armed Forces Act, before approaching the court.
It further held that the appellant’s claim that the decision of the lower court was a perversity could not be sustained because it was based on the evidence presented before it by parties.
It held: “The lower court had elaborate consideration of all the facts, both from the accusers, the accused person and their witnesses before coming to the conclusion that the exercise of compulsory retirement was done in error.
“It was in that respect that the court now held that the compulsory retirement of the claimant was declared null and void; letter of compulsory retirement also set aside and he was ordered to be reinstated and a letter issued to that effect, reinstating him into the Nigerian Army with all rights and privileges.
“There is no piece of evidence that is contrary to what the court has said. So, there is nothing that is perverse by the findings of the lower court.
“The law is that where the lower court makes any finding of facts and there is nothing that is adverse, that is contrary to justice, or any thing that orchestrated injustice on the line of the consideration of the lower court; where the court has made correct and straightforward findings of facts, this court has no business interfering with it.
“The trial court did excellently well in this case, and we have no need to interfere with the findings of the court.
“It is in this respect that we come to the conclusion that this appeal is lacking in merit. It is grossly lacking in merit, and it is hereby dismissed.
“The decision of the lower court is upheld and all the decisions made therein, are also sustained.”
PRNigeria reported that on August 6, 2014, the 25 Task Force Brigade led by Hassan carried out a special operation and recaptured the earlier seized towns of Bulabulin and Damboa from the Boko Haram terrorists.
One of his troops, still in the Army, told PRNigeria that Colonel Hassan was the Commander of the 7 Division Garrison responsible for the security of Maiduguri and its environs before he was directed to lead the operation.
He led the Brigade in preventing Boko Haram from gaining a foothold in Maiduguri and environs.
The Bulabulin and Damboa operations were successfully executed.
He also led a one-day fierce counter-terrorism battle in Bulabulin and Damboa, where his troops killed several Boko Haram militants and recaptured the seized towns.
As the Garrison Commander, he was pivotal to the reorganisation of the Civilian Joint Task Force for effectiveness and set the stage for their subsequent involvement in selected security operations.
Colonel Hassan, a member of NDA 41 Regular Combatant Course, was commissioned in September 1994 and served as instructor, staff officer and field commander in his 21-year career.
As a young officer, Hassan took part in ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and later in the United Nations Mission in Sudan.
He was appointed Chief Security Officer to the Sierra Leonean Chief of Defence Staff for his exceptional performance.
The gallant officer hails from Danko Wasagu Local Government of Kebbi State.