Hon. Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae of the Abuja Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has dismissed the case filed by Corporal Timothy Ode and 119 others personnel against the Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff, and Nigerian Army Council in its entirety for lacking in merit.
The Court held that Corporal Timothy Ode and 119 others personnel compulsory discharge is lawful pursuant to the Armed Forces Act, awarded the costs of N150,000.00 in favour of the Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff, and Nigerian Army Council.
From facts, the claimants- Corporal Timothy Ode and 119 others personnel had averred that they were not given a fair hearing or subjected to a fair trial before their summary dismissal upon false charges of misconduct.
They stated that their summary dismissal from the Nigerian Army was illegal, and the subsequent conversion of their summary dismissal to compulsory discharge is unlawful and illegal, sought for reinstatement and payment of their salaries, allowances and to accord all privileges beginning from the years 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2004 being the time of the wrongful summary dismissals.
In defense, the defendants- Nigerian Army and 2 others stated that when Corporal Timothy and 119 other personnel were confronted with misconduct, they admitted of the charges and pleaded for clemency; that the allegation of not given fair hearing or were not subjected to a fair hearing before their summary dismissal was an afterthought.
The defendants averred that following several pleas by the claimants, they magnanimously and in a rare show of clemency, converted the dismissal to compulsory discharge and never to be readmitted or reinstated into the Army that those whose records were updated and genuine were paid their respective gratuity and entitlements.
In addition, Learned counsel to the Nigerian Army, Michael A. Adoyi, with Habu Sambe Danjuma stated that the suit was filed 10 years after the accrual of their cause of action; and submitted that it is statute-barred and the Court is bereft of jurisdiction to hear it, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In response, the counsel to Corporal Timothy and others, Mohammed Shehu Esq submitted that his clients alleged unlawful dismissal was without legal justification, urged the court to discountenance the defense of limitation by the defendants in its entirety that the claimants have proved their case collectively and severally to be entitled to judgment in their favour.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae held that the subject matter of the suit is one of a contract of service is not statute-barred and the court is not deprived of jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
“In other words, if the claimants were wrongly dismissed, it had been rectified by reinstatement into the Nigerian Army.
“The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who is the Service Chief exercised the powers given to him in Section 32 (3) of the Armed Forces Act when he authorized a compulsory discharge of the claimants.
“I find that the claimants were reinstated as soldiers before they were discharged.” Justice Obaseki-Osaghae ruled.