Court orders reinstatement of dismissed soldier, awards N500,000 in damages



By Glory Abuh-Adejoh

The National Industrial Court, Abuja has ordered the reinstatement of a dismissed soldier, Cpl.Tajudeen Ajala in the Nigerian Army and also awarded N500,000 in general damages.

The court set aside the dismissal order on Ajala.

Justice Isaac Essien while delivering judgment held that the commanding officer erred in law by imposing sentence of reduction in rank on the claimant.

The court further held that the dismissal of the claimant outside the purview of punishment stipulated in sections 57 and 104 of the Armed Forces Act was equally wrong.

From facts, the Nigerian Army had submitted that an investigation was conducted by the Military Police into the alleged misconduct Ajala committed.

The defendant also argued that a panel recommended that the claimant be charged with disobedience to standing order and assault.

The defence submitted that based on the recommendation of the panel, the Command summarily charged, tried and convicted Ajala on the two-count charge.

According to the Army, on Dec.11, 2017, it awarded the punishment of reduction in rank to Ajala for disobedience and dismissal on the offence of assault.

As part of its submission, the defendant argued that the summary trial and consequential dismissal of the claimant was in accordance with laid down legal procedures and extant law.

Defence concluded its argument by urging the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety.

In response, the claimant averred that the alleged offence on which he was tried cannot be done by summary trial.

He stated that the punishment did not attract dismissal from service.

He therefore urged the court to grant the reliefs he sought.

The court, however, on its part after evaluation of the submission of both parties, held that by the express specific provisions of the Armed Forces Act 2004, the offence which the claimant was charged for, that he ought to have been tried by a court-martial and not by summary trial.

The court also held that the trial of the claimant by summary trial was in violation of the Armed Forces Act.

The court also awarded the sum of N250, 000, as cost of action against the defendant. (NAN)