Court Quashes Retirement of Admirals, Others.

The National Industrial Court (NIC) Friday quashed the compulsory retirement of nine naval officers and ordered their reinstatement with immediate effect.
Delivering judgment, the President of the court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo held that their compulsory retirement was illegal and unconstitutional and did not follow due process. 
While, Rear Admirals John Kpokpogri, Rear Admirals Sunday Lawal Baje, Rear Admirals Francis Akpan, Commodore Edwin Onoye Omakwu are to be paid their retirement benefits having reached the retirement age, others namely, Navy Captain Goddy Ohuabunwa, Navy Captains George Alily, navy Captain Hermans Efenudu, Navy commander AH Oforibe and LT. CDR MA Abdullahi are to be reinstated back into the navy.
In his judgment that lasted just 35-minutes, Justice Adejumon held that the Nigerian Navy failed to present any document before the court to justify the retirement of the claimants.
The court noted that the claim of the Navy authority that it acted based on intelligent report was invalid because the said report was not present before the court.
The court stated that only the board of the Nigerian Navy has the power to retire officers adding that such responsibility is not vested in the whims and caprices of Chief of Naval officer.
The court stated that nobody is above the law hence the Nigerian Navy should respected the constitution.
Justice Adejumo held “The defendant has attempted to justify their action by citing an intelligent report for their action. But, it has failed to establish that the claimants committed the alleged offence.  He who asserts must be willing to prove, failure to so is fatal to their case.”
Justice Adejumo noted that although an employer is not under compulsion to give reason for termination of an employee’s employment but whenever a reason is given, the employer must be willing to prove same to the satisfaction of the court.
“So having alleged that it acted following an intelligence report for retiring the claimant, the defendant must establish that the claimants were indeed guilty of the offence”, the court held.
Justice Adejumo held that the court has a duty to ensure that the pleadings and processes of termination of the claimants’ employment was done in accordance with the rule of natural justice
Consequently, Justice Adejumo declared their compulsory retirement unlawful and ordered payment of their salaries and entitlements from 2007 till the date of judgment.
The court also ordered the Navy to pay interest of 30 percent from 2007 till date to all the claimants.
However, the court rejected the claimants’ request for N50 million as general damages on ground that they will be paid their entitlements.
Rear Admirals John Kpokpogri, Rear Admirals, Rear Admirals Francis Akpan, Rear Admirals Sunday Lawal Baje, Commodore Edwin Onoye Omakwu, and LT. CDR MA Abdullahi, Navy Captain Goddy Ohuabunwa, Navy Captains George Alily, navy captain H A Efenudu and Navy commander AH Oforibe were compulsorily retired in 2007 over alleged bunkering.
In their joint statement of claim, they prayed the court to order the defendants namely, the Nigerian Navy, Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral B A Raji, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Navy Board to reinstate them without further delay