The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has slated March 15 for the hearing of two applications challenging the alleged illegal retirement of Major General Ibrahim Sani from the Nigerian Army.
Before the retirement, General Sani was Chief of Transformation and Innovation Centre of the Nigerian Army
A three-member panel of justices presided by Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya on Wednesday adjourned to enable the new counsel to Sani, Magaji Mahmoud (SAN) to file the relevant processes.
The court was billed to hear an application for an order compelling the Chief of Army Staff, Lieut. General Tukur Burutai; and the Judge Advocate of the Nigerian Army Court Martial, Colonel S.I Musa to produce the records of the proceedings before the court, and an application seeking to stay the execution of the decision of the army panel.
Counsel to the Nigerian Army, Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN) initially opposed the application on the grounds that the army is ready to go on with the application, however, agreed with the justices that the adjournment would be in the interest of justice.
Earlier, counsel to Sani, Paul Sule had written the Nigerian Army to produce the record of proceedings of the Special Court Martial, while informing it that the justices of the Court of Appeal had “on Tuesday the 12th Day of December 2017 directed parties to maintain status quo ante bellum.” He added that “it is therefore only pertinent that we point out that nothing must be done by either of the parties to the pending application for stay of execution which will or has the effect or tendency to render the application nugatory or foist upon the Court of Appeal a hopeless and or helpless situation.”
Gen. Sani is challenging the decision of the Special Court Martial set up by the Chief of Army Staff, which convicted him and was purportedly affirmed by the Army Council on November 4.
The suit is an appeal against the ruling of the court-martial and two letters from the headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Ministry of Defence with Reference number: AHQ DOAA/GI/300/197 dated 17 November and signed by Major General F.O. Agugo titled: ‘Third Army Council Decision for Implementation Maj Gen I Sani (N/7361)’.
There was also another letter signed by Brig. General F. Yahaya, the Acting Military Secretary headquarters for the Nigerian Army with reference number: AHQ MS/GI/226 dated November 23, 2017 captioned: ‘Notification of Retirement: Age Ceiling on Rank Brigadier General Ibrahim Sani (N/7361).’
Both letters had advised the applicant to “apply for voluntary retirement on ground of Age Ceiling on rank pursuant to paragraph 02.10 (B) of Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service (HTACOS) for officers 2012 (Revise).”
The court action followed the judgment of the Special Court Martial delivered on July 20, 2017, which was confirmed by the Nigerian Army Council on October 16, 2017 retiring Sani on age ground. The retirement was conveyed to the appellant by a letter dated 17th November 2017 and delivered November 23, 2017.
In the Motion on Notice before the court, Sani is asking the court make an order “directing and or compelling the respondent by itself and by its servants, agents, representatives and employees and in particular the Chief of Army Staff (Lt. General TY Burutai N/7630) who convened the Special Court Martial and to whom the records of proceedings were submitted and Col. S.I Musa (N/9822) who was the Judge Advocate of the Special Court Martial to forward the record of proceedings of the Special Court Martial in Court Martial case no: NA/COAS/GI/39 Nigerian Army v Maj. General I. Sani to the Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division within seven days upon service of the orders of this court.
“An order of this honourable court directing all parties to this application to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the motion on notice for stay of execution pending before the court dated the 4th of December, 2017 but filed on the of December, 2017.”