His Lordship, Hon. Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has nullified the summary trial that led to the dismissal of Lance Corporal Abdul Umar from the Nigerian Army, ordered for his immediate reinstatement with payment of salaries and allowances from 20th September 2007 till date.
The Court held that the punishment awarded to Lance Corporal Abdul Umar was done in excess of the powers of the Commanding officer and nothing to show that Umar’s was allowed to make personal or legal representations before he was convicted, an act that offends the principle of Natural justice; awarded the sum of One Million Naira against the Nigerian Army.
From facts, the claimant- Lance Corporal Abdul Umar General via form of complaint dated 24th February 2020 submitted that he had no hands in the circumstances leading to his summary dismissal, contended that his trial was conducted faulty of legal standard and was not given fair hearing; that he and his co dismissed colleague wrote several letters of appeal to the authorities but all to no avail.
In defense, the Nigerian Army asserted that Umar’s summary trial and subsequent dismissal was in accordance with the laid down procedure in the military and in accordance with the law, urged the Court to dismiss the claim.
In the same vein, the Armed Forces Council, Chief Of Defence Staff, and Honourable Minister Of Defence averred that Umar was implicated in the circumstances that led to his dismissal, charged and tried in accordance with the applicable laws and procedures and was allowed to defend himself after which he was found culpable, as such, he cannot complain of fair hearing.
They equally objected that they are not necessary parties to the suit that no cause or reasonable cause of action against them, and further that the action of Umar’s is statute-barred having been brought outside the statutory period of 3 months and has robbed the court of the power to entertain the matter, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In opposition, Umar’s counsel, Moses Ukachukwu Esq urged the Court to dismiss the objection that the limitation law does not protect against acts done without lawful justification; that under the act his client was charged, the offenses can only be tried by a Court Martial and not summarily triable.
Delivering judgment after careful consideration of the submissions of both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Oyewumi dismissed the objections for lacking merit.
The Court held that the Commanding Officer awarded a sentence that is not in contemplation or provided for by the enabling Act, that the punishment awarded to Umar was done in excess of the powers of the Commanding officer.
Justice Oyewumi further stated that the trial of Lance Corporal Umar was done in violation of the rules of natural justice as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended and cannot be the foundation of any action.
“The fact that the claimant was rightly brought before the Commanding Officer will not justify or exculpate the defendants from the consequences of non-compliance with the stipulations of the punishment awardable.
“Any act which occasioned miscarriage of justice against a party should not be allowed to stand.” Justice Oyewumi ruled
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