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I was fighting Boko Haram during 2015 election, says army officer suspended for alleged partisanship

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THE court case between the Nigeria Army and Abdulfatah Mohammed, one of the 38 army officers that were disengaged in 2016 for alleged gross misconduct, continued on Friday at the National Industrial Court Abuja, with the cross-examination of the claimant witness.

Mohammed’s lawyer, Abdul Mohammed, narrated to journalists how his client was alleged to have been in Edo State during the 2015 election period, but that they were able to provide evidence that he was actually in Borno State taking part in the counter-insurgency operations.

“What happened today was that the defence counsel, Ibrahim Etsu further cross-examined the applicant.  Etsu put a number of questions before the applicant.

“One of the questions was intended to put to the applicant that he was in Edo state during the 2015 General elections. But the applicant was able to put forth documents that showed that he was in Borno State during that period.

“He (Etsu) was trying to put it to the colonel that he was in Edo state during the elections. But from the records, including the posting signal and others, it was clear that he was in Borno State at the time.”

It would be recalled that at the last adjourned date, counsel to the Nigerian Army, Jibrin Okutekpa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had insinuated that Mohammed was disengaged from the army because he had served the 18 years period that was indicated in his letter of commissioning and posting.

But Mohammed explained that there are provisions in the Nigeria Army Terms and Conditions of Service that allows them to continue in the service even after the initial 18 years, without applying for re-engagement.

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Even at the period when the disengagement of the 38 army officers was announced, the Nigerian army claimed the affected officers had displayed partisanship during the elections.

Many of the officers said they were not given any query and were not tried before any panel or court-martial, but were just served their compulsory retirement notice.

Mohammed said he had read about his disengagement from the newspaper before the letter got to him.

Also during Friday’s hearing, Okutepa, counsel to the Nigeria Army, pleaded with the court to allow him substitute the witness he had intended to call to testify in the matter. Okutepa said this has become necessary because his initial witness, an army officer, has been transferred out of Abuja and will no longer be available to attend the trial.

The trial judge, Justice R.B Haastrup granted the plea and subsequently adjourned the case till February 22.

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