An application for adjournment by the Nigerian Army has again stalled hearing in the case of unlawful dismissal instituted by one of the 38 senior officers compulsorily retired in 2016.
The claimant, Colonel Mohammed Auwal Suleiman (rtd), a former Defence Attaché in the Chad Republic, had approached the National Industrial Court in Abuja to challenge the retirement.
Suleiman in his evidence in chief on June 13 told the court that the army violated its own rules and laws when it compulsorily retired some of its senior officers in 2016.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel for the army, I. I. Ngele informed the court that the defendants’ sole witness, Major Ali Abba Goni, was not available and that the army was considering the option of substituting the witness. He therefore urged the court for an adjournment.
However, objecting to the application, Suleiman’s counsel, Olayinka Adedeji said the defence counsel had on October 10 informed the court that the said witness was out of station on a course.
She said the submission was contrary to evidence gathered that the said witness was in the office at Army Headquarters Garrison (AHG) in Abuja on the said date.
She said the claimants had been informed that Major Goni had since been transferred from AHQ to 8 Division, Monguno in Borno State.
It was gathered that the witness was posted out of Abuja on October 29 but expected to resume on November 5.
Barrister Adedeji said the application for adjournment was therefore the second consecutive time the defendants was stalling the proceeding. She therefore urged the court to foreclose their defence.
In a short bench ruling, the trial judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that with the admittance of the complainant’s counsel to the fact that the witness has been posted out of Abuja, it would be against the doctrine of fair trial to foreclose the defence.
He therefore adjourned the matter to February 26, 2019 for definite hearing. The court also ordered the defendants to ensure that the punitive cost of N20,000 awarded against them at the last sitting was paid to the claimant before the next adjourned date.