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Nigeria’s Chief Of Defence Staff Faces Contempt Charges Over Violation Of Court Order

The National Industrial Court has granted leave for the filing of contempt charges against the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin, for an alleged breach of a court order.

Justice Sanusi Kado gave the ruling on Thursday in favour of Lt-Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed after determining that Gen. Olonisakin refused to re-absorb him into the Nigerian Army as ordered by the court in 2018.

In its judgement, the court presided over then by Justice Edith Agbakoba, had ordered Gen. Olonisakin to get President Muhammadu Buhari to review the “unlawful retirement” of Lt. Col. Mohammed and asked him to provide evidence of transmitting the court order to the President.

The General, the court held, was obligated under the law and duty-bound to transmit the retired army officer’s appeal for administrative redress, which was filed within the 30 days allowed by law, to the Commander-in-Chief.

Lt. Col. Mohammed, a commanding officer in the North East Theatre of Operations, was retired by the Army in 2016 alongside 37 other top officers in a manner which violated the military’s rules that required such actions to be based on indictments, queries, or decisions of a court marshall.

The court had ruled that the Lt. Col.’s right to a fair hearing was infringed.

Arguing before the court regarding the CDS’ inaction, the Lt. Col.’s lawyer, Abdul Muhammed, said it was uncalled for, especially considering the officer’s sacrifices in the service of his country.

He said, “The development is particularly unfortunate considering that this officer was a Commanding Officer in the North East theatre of operation risking his life for his country but his Commander in Chief and nation failed him by never responding to his cry whether for good or bad.

“The Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers (THACOS) provided a right of review and some members of the Army 38 had submitted letters for review through the Chief of Defence Staff but had received no proof that those appeals were indeed transmitted to the President for his mature consideration,” Muhammed explained.

It is expected that summons will be served on the CDS to initiate committal proceedings and compel compliance with the court’s two-year-old order.

HumAngle gathered that the affected officers had written to President Buhari through the CDS a year after filing their appeal but did not get an acknowledgement.

Reminders that were subsequently written were also ignored, thus raising suspicion that the correspondences may not have been delivered at all to the presidency.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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