Economic Community of West African States/ECOWAS

Ruth, the widow of O.A Baba-Ochankpa, a Lieutenant-Colonel, and 37 other retired army generals and colonels have asked the Community Court of Justice of ECOWAS in Abuja to declare as unlawful their compulsory retirement from the Nigerian army.

The 37 retired army officers and the widow filed the suit through their counsel, Abdul Muhammed.

Mrs Baba-Ochankpa joined the suit on behalf of her late husband.

According to the court documents made available to newsmen, the plaintiffs allege that the 37 men who were compulsorily retired from the Nigeria Army are nine Major Generals, ten Brigadier Generals, seven Colonels, eleven Lieutenant Colonels and one Major.

They also alleged that they were all punished by compulsory retirement on June 9, 2016.

The respondent in the suit is the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The plaintiffs in the suit claimed that the defendant, acting through its agents, the Minister of Defense, Mansur Dan-Alli; the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin; and the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai have violated their fundamental rights.

They also claimed that they have implemented and are continuing to encourage and sanction policy of unconstitutional victimisation of the plaintiffs, their families, other Nigerian Army personnel, their families and their dependents; contrary to provisions of conventions, treaty, law, and the Nigerian constitution.

The plaintiffs are, therefore, among others seeking an order of the court for enforcement of the fundamental rights and award them N10 billion damages each.

“Adjudge and declare that the punishment meted to the Army 38 by way of compulsory retirement based on disciplinary grounds (serious offences) had no factual basis whatsoever and hence illegal and in breach of the human rights of the members of the Army 38.

“Adjudge and declare that the punishment meted out to the Army 38 by way of compulsory retirement based on disciplinary grounds (serious offences) was done in the complete absence of and in the failure of due process and thus in violation of the human rights of the relevant Plaintiffs.

“Adjudge and declare that as a direct result of the failure to subject the Army 38 to a court-martial the Nigeria Army Council was not competent on its own to sit as an adjudication panel to convict and approve the decision to punish the Army 38 by way of compulsory retirement based on disciplinary grounds (serious offences) in the absence of a court-martial conviction and this robs the Army Council of legal powers to act.”

The plaintiff also wants the court to pronounce that there does not exist any legal basis for the punishment by way of compulsory retirement.

“Adjudge and declare that the actions and inactions of the defendant from June 9, 2016, and till the filing of this application have been of nature and were designed by the defendant to perpetuate the violations of the rights of the plaintiffs to have an effective remedy against the primary breaches of their respective fundamental human rights.”

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