ECOWAS court dismisses soldier’s suit challenging ‘unlawful’ retirement

ECOWAS-Court
ECOWAS-Court. [Photo credit: THISDAYLIVE]

An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court sitting in Abuja has dismissed an application by a lieutenant-colonel, Silas Santoi, who claims he was unlawfully retired by the Nigerian Army.

The judge, Januaria Moreira, in her short judgment on Wednesday said after an analysis of all the processes filed and the submissions of counsels from both sides, the applicant’s claims against the army is adjudged baseless.

“His claims are groundless and are hereby dismissed,” Ms Moreira said.

She, however, said the army did not oppose any of the claims by the plaintiff.

Immediately after the court sitting, the plaintiff’s counsel, identified simply as Mr Stephen, told journalists the claimant would “go through the ruling and possibly file an appeal”.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Santoi said he had approached the court having been denied justice in the Nigerian court for 14 years.

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According to him, he has also provided ‘strong evidence’ of his alleged ill-treatment by the Nigerian Army.

Mr Santoi said he has a running legal battle with the Army for allegedly retiring him prematurely on return from a study leave.

But efforts to get justice over the years had been frustrated, Mr Santoi added.

“In the past, I have written to two former presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. I also appealed to the National Judicial Council, the 6th and 7th National Assemblies and other pro-democratic organisations in the country, seeking justice, but all to no avail.”

He said he had equally appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari through the National Council of State to intervene in the matter but, “I am yet to get justice,” he said.

‘Unlawfully retired’

The plaintiff in the suit EWS/CCJ/APP17/18 filed through his counsel, Elela Stephen, asked the court to declare that his fundamental human rights and rights to a fair hearing were breached before he was unlawfully retired.

Mr Santoi then prayed the court to declare as unlawful the stoppage of his salary, benefits, and entitlements.

The army officer also prayed the court for an order that all his salaries, benefits and entitlements with effect from 2005 to date be reinstated, while his record of service corrected.

Mr Santoi, lastly, prayed the court to order the payment of N10 billion as general damages and compensation due to the breach of his fundamental human right.

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