The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has slated March 15 for the hearing of two applications challenging the alleged illegal retirement of Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Sani from the Nigerian Army.
The court was billed to hear an application for an order compelling the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Burutai, and the Judge Advocate of the Nigerian Army Court Martial, Col. S.I Musa, to produce the records of the proceedings before the court.
The court was also expected to hear an application seeking to stay the execution of the decision of the army panel.
A three-member panel of justices presided by Justice Abubakar Yahaya on Wednesday adjourned to enable the new counsel to Sani, Magaji Mahmoud (SAN), to file the relevant processes.
Counsel to the Nigerian Army, Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), who initially opposed the application on 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 Dec. 12, 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.”
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 Nov. 4, 2017.
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 Nov. 17, and signed by Maj.-Gen. F.O. Agugo.
It was titled: “Third Army Council Decision for Implementation Maj.-Gen. I Sani (N/7361)’’.
There was also another letter signed by Brig.-Gen. F. Yahaya, the Acting Military Secretary, Headquarters, for the Nigerian Army with reference number: AHQ MS/GI/226, dated Nov. 23, 2017.
The letter was captioned: “Notification of Retirement: Age Ceiling on Rank Brigadier General Ibrahim Sani (N/7361)’’.
Both letters 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 Oct. 16, 2017, retiring Sani on age ground.
The retirement was conveyed to the appellant by a letter dated Nov. 17, 2017, and delivered on Nov. 23, 2017.
In the Motion on Notice before the court, Sani is asking the court to 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.-Gen. 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 vs Maj.-Gen. 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 six of December, 2017.” (NAN)