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altECOWAS COURT FIXES 22 N0VEMBER FOR HEARING ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION CASE FILED BY FORMER NIGERIAN MILITARY OFFICER 


A panel of three judges of the ECOWAS Court, led by Honorable Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara has fixed 22nd November 2018 for the resumed hearing of a suit filed by a retired Nigerian military officer against the Federal Republic of Nigeria alleging the violation of his human rights over his premature retirement for undertaking an ‘illegal and unapproved’ university course.

This followed a motion brought by his Counsel, Mr. Elela Stephen urging the Court to deliver a default judgment against the Defendant for failing to file a statement of defence within the time stipulated by law despite being duly served with documents and hearing notice.

Justice Ouattara, said the adjournment was to provide the judges ample time to study the details of the suit which they inherited from the previous judges on assumption of duty in August 2018.

In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/17/18, Lt Col. Silas Jock Sontai, is alleging the violation of his fundamental rights by the Nigerian Army following his premature retirement twelve years ago for allegedly undertaking an unauthorized University course despite securing the authorization of the Chief of Army Staff.

Lt Col. Santoi said his travail started in 2000, after submitting a letter notifying the Army of the completion of his studies which in response, characterized the release for the university programme as ‘illegal and unapproved,’ thereby recommending him for disciplinary action.

The retired officer accused the army of having ‘deliberately avoided the correct trial procedure, which violates Section 117 of the Armed Forces Act that provides the right for an Officer to elect to be tried by Court Martial or Summary Trial.’

The Applicant averred that his efforts to seek redress using various administrative channels, including resort to the national courts, the national parliament, the national judicial council and four Nigerian leaders, were frustrated compelling him to approach the ECOWAS Court seeking various reliefs including a declaration that his participation in the course was duly approved by the Army.

He also wants the Court to declare that the stoppage of his salary, benefits, entitlements and purported retirement while the matter was pending before a competent court of law for determination, is an affront to justice and a breach of his fundamental human rights and should be reversed pending the determination of the matter.

The Applicant further urged the Court to declare him ‘physically and mentally fit‘ and order the government of Nigeria to ‘withdraw all earlier defamatory publications as to his health status,’ as well as pay him 10 billion naira as general damages and compensation for the breach of his fundamental human rights.