The Presidency has received the appeals of 22 senior officers of the Nigerian Army who complained they were wrongfully laid off, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm authoritatively.
In our series of investigations on how the Army compulsorily retired 38 officers, some unjustly, we reported the riddle surrounding the government’s handling of the letters of the affected officers who sought redress.
The affected officers later complained that the Minister of Defence was blocking their appeals from reaching the President, a claim defence officials denied.
Mr. Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina, also declined comment on the letters.
However, our investigation revealed the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, handed the appeals of the aggrieved officers to President Muhammadu Buhari in compliance with the revised version of Paragraph 09.02(e) of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Services for Officers, 2012 (Revised).
“Your Excellency, I wish to most respectfully intimate the President, Commander-in-Chief on the appeals arising from the recent retirements of some senior army officers by the Army Council,” wrote the Defence Chief in a July 5 letter seen by this newspaper.
“In view of the aforementioned, I respectfully forwarded their prayers for Mr. President’s consideration and further directive, your Excellency,” he added.
Of the 38 officers compulsorily retired, a total of 22 sought redress. While only one is pleading for voluntary retirement, 21 others are demanding reinstatement, having complained they were arbitrarily dismissed without query or indictment by any panel.
The only person seeking conversion from compulsory retirement to voluntary retirement is Ohifeme Ejemai (N/8340), Major General. The reason for his forced retirement, the Defence Chief told the President, was fraud and money laundering. Family members however said the allegations against the general was untrue. “He was never accused of any wrongdoing before his retirement,” a family member said. “And he was never involved in any wrongdoing. ”
Although it is now confirmed the appeals have been transmitted to the Presidency, it is not certain when Mr. Buhari would act on them.
“I have confirmed the Chief of Defence Staff’s letter with the appeals attached has been received by the Chief of Staff to the President,” a source said; adding however, “but I can’t say the President himself has received the appeals.”
Court documents seen by this newspaper showed that one of the affected officers approached the National Industrial Court, seeking mandamus that would compel defence authorities to show evidence of transferring the appeals to Mr. Buhari.
Mr. Olonisakin’s lawyer rejected that plea.
“It will amount to absurdity and encouraging insubordination for the applicant who was a junior officer to the 1st respondent (Chief of Defence Staff) to demand the performance of a duty of reporting to him, the applicant, the performance of a duty not imposed by law…,” said J.S. Okutepa, legal representative of the Chief Defence Staff.
While officers who feel unjustly retired or dismissed can appeal within 30 days, there is no stipulated time frame within which the president must communicate his decision, our review of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers showed.