Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, now risks jail, after disobeying an order of the Industrial Court, which compelled him to provide evidence of transmitting the appeal of a controversially dismissed officer to President Muhammadu Buhari for redress as stipulated by law, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
The court had on June 21 ruled that Mr. Olonisakin comply within 10 days with its judgement as delivered by Edith Agbakoba in Abuja.
However, checks at the court by PREMIUM TIMES on July 3, after the period given for compliance, showed the order had not been carried out, and the Defence spokesperson, John Enenche, did not also confirm compliance.
Citing Mr. Olonisakin’s disobedience to the order, the judgement creditor, Abdulfatai Mohammed, on Friday, approached the industrial court to summon the military chief to give reason why he should not be committed to prison for “contempt of court”.
Mr. Mohammed, was compulsorily retired from the Army in June 2016 alongside 37 others, most of who were forced out of service in manners that contravened rules of disengagement in the armed forces.
Most of them, like Mr. Mohammed, did not face any panel or probe as stipulated by law. They were also neither indicted nor queried for any offence, according to PREMIUM TIMES investigations, yet to be denied by the military authorities.
In keeping with the redress window accorded him by the military rules, Mr. Mohammed had on June 20, 2016 petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to demand justice.
According to Paragraph 09.02(e) of the Harmonized Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers, 2012 (revised), any officer compulsorily retired or dismissed can appeal to the President through the Chief of Defence Staff within 30 days.
However, as no response came from the Presidency, Mr. Mohammed approached the Industrial Court last year to seek an order, compelling Mr. Olonisakin, a General, to transmit his petition to the President and show evidence of that action.
Although, court documents sighted by PREMIUM TIMES, show the military had tendered a July 2016 letter to Mr. Buhari, appearing to convey the petitions of 22 officers, including Mr. Mohammed, the correspondence had no stamp marking it as “received” by the Presidency.
Consequently, the court ruled on June 21 that the Chief of Defense Staff was “duty-bound to show evidence that Mr. Mohammed’s petition was delivered within 10 days of the judgment.”
According to the Notice of Motion on “Committal for Contempt”, sighted by this newspaper and served on Mr. Olonisakin on Friday, the sacked officer’s counsel, Abdul Mohammed, said that Mr. Olonisakin “fully participated in the proceedings and even up to the final decision.”
“Despite receiving the said of order of court and having knowledge of the order, the respondents have refused to obey order of the court.
“It is in the interest of justice to commit the respondent for refusal to obey lawful order of the court,” the lawyer said.
The parties are now expecting court to communicate date for proceedings to commence.
Mr. Mohammed and the 37 other affected officers have now forwarded a fresh petition to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, accusing military authorities of bias and injustice.
The latest appeal came over one year after after nothing came from earlier petitions to President Muhammadu Buhari.