Lieutenant Colonel unjustly dismissed by Nigerian Army dies while awaiting justice

One of the officers controversially dismissed by the Nigerian Army for alleged partisanship in the 2015 general elections is dead.

Ojebo Baba-Ochankpa died while waiting for justice after he and other affected officers petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari.

The deceased went to bed hale on Monday but died before dawn on Tuesday, his brother, Paul Ochankpa, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Ochankpa was dismissed without any query, trial or indictment, and the President from whom he sought redress in accordance with the law, did not act on his petition for months.

He died in the United Kingdom where he had been since last year, according to his brother who added that the officer was never sick “at all” before his passing.

The deceased was studying for a Master’s degree at Coventry University “to keep himself busy, while waiting for redress after petitioning the President,” one of his colleagues told PREMIUM TIMES.

Mr. Ochankpa, forced out of service as a lieutenant colonel, was one of the 38 officers compulsorily retired by the Army Council in June 2015.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Although in their compulsory retirement letters, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, specific reasons for their retirement was not stated; the Army spokesperson, Sani Usman, a brigadier-general, hinted that the officers were fired on the grounds of arms procurement fraud and professional misconduct in the 2015 elections.

But PREMIUM TIMES uncovered specific reasons given for the compulsory retirement of some of the affected officers, including Mr. Ochankpa, after reviewing court documents filed by the Army at the National Industrial Court in the suit filed by the affected officers.

Mr. Ochankpa, former commanding officer, 343 Air Defence Artillery RegimentElele, Rivers State, was accused of partisanship in the 2015 elections.

However, investigations by this newspaper revealed that the Army ignored its own rules in dismissing  Mr. Ochankpa and most of the affected officers.

They were dismissed without query or indictment by any panel but for reasons that appeared to smack of arbitrariness and witch-hunt by Army authorities.

After the controversial exercise, Mr. Ochankpa and 21 other affected officers separately exploited the window provided by Paragraph 09.02(e) of the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers to petition President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking reinstatement.

Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin
Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin

Their petitions were transmitted to the Presidency in July 2016 by the Chief of Defence Staff.

Seven months after, none of the petitioners has received response from Mr. Buhari, leaving their fates hanging in the balance.

Mr. Ochankpa died Tuesday while still awaiting presidential action on his appeal.


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