After submitting it dismissed an officer for “failing to renew his contract,” the Nigerian Army on Friday indicated it may have sacked the officer and 38 others for alleged electoral partisanship, among other allegations.
The affected officer, Abdulfatah Mohammed, was controversially dismissed in 2016 alongside others, including military generals without facing any panel as required by law.
The army had submitted during repeated hearings in court that it sacked the officers for failing to renew their contracts after 18 years of service.
The officers, who have instituted various actions against their dismissal, have however argued that the armed forces guiding rules do not oblige them to make any such application, once they have been employed.
Speaking during further cross-examination of Mr Mohammed, a lawyer for the defence team, Ibrahim Etsu, alleged the applicant was in Edo State during the 2015 election.
According to the lawyer, Mr Mohammed, a dismissed army lieutenant colonel, ”was allegedly involved in election malpractice” in Edo State from the South-south, the region the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, is from.
Responding, however, Mr Mohammed said he was posted to Borno State where he fought alongside other soldiers against attacks by the dreaded Boko Haram.
Explaining the proceedings of the day in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES after the court session on Monday, Mr Mohammed’s lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, said the case was adjourned till February 22 after a defence lawyer informed the court that he would like to change a defence witness.
He also informed this newspaper that his client was accused of playing partisan roles in Edo State, during the previous election.
“What happened today was that the defence counsel, Ibrahim Etsu, did further cross-examination of the applicant. A defence lawyer, Etsu put a number of questions before the applicant. One of the questions was intended to put to the applicant that he was in Edo State during the 2015 general elections. But the applicant was able to put forth documents that showed that he was in Borno State during that period.”
Mr Mohammed explained that the other defence counsel, Jibrin Okutepa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, asked the court to allow him time to present a new witness because his initial one was transferred by the army.
Following that application, the court adjourned till February 22, for the defence to change their witness and bring him or her to court.
Attempts by this newspaper to speak with Mr Etsu failed. The lawyer said he was not permitted to speak with journalists about the matter.
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