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126 B’Haram-fighting soldiers sue Army over dismissal

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Some soldiers, numbering 126, who were sacked following the battle to recapture Bazza in Adamawa State from Boko Haram in October 2014, have sued the Nigerian Army for alleged wrongful dismissal.

The 126 plaintiffs were among 255 soldiers sacked on January 13 and 14, 2015 by the Nigerian Army for alleged “disobedience to standing order and failure to perform military duties”.

The soldiers, who said they were sacked through oral communication on January 13 and 14, 2015, filed their suit with number NICN/ABJ/92/2015, before the National Industrial Court sitting in Abu‎ja.

The case is before the President of the NIC, Justice Babatunde Adejumo.

Only 126 out of the 255 sacked soldiers, on whose behalf the law firm of human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had petitioned the Army, were named in the suit as plaintiffs.

Many of the 126 soldiers were enlisted in the Army in 1979 while others joined the army between then and 2013.

The plaintiffs comprise four Warrant Officers ‎and others in the ranks of Sergeants, Corporal, Lance Corporal, and Private.

Some of the plaintiffs are Warrant Officers Akanny Welcome, Davou Nta, Ibrahim Usman and Adediran Ogunmuyiwa.

The soldiers were part of the joint force, code-named; ‘OP Zaman Lafia’ pooled together from different Divisions and Battalions of the Nigerian Army to combat Boko Haram in the North-East.

According to the plaintiffs, their dismissal was communicated to them orally at their station by ‎Lt-Col. M.J. Gambo on January 13, 2015 and by the Garrison Commander, Brig. Gen. B.O Akinroluoyo, the following day.

The Army claimed that the plaintiffs failed to obey their Commanding Officer, Lt-Col. A. A Egbejule, during a counter-attack by Boko Haram in Bazza, a development which allegedly led to the recapture of the territory by the terrorists.

But a lawyer in Falana’s law firm, Deji Morakinyo, argued in the statement of facts accompanying the suit that the soldiers were denied “inviolable opportunity to be heard and make representation in defence and to state their respective cases”.

Morakinyo said the‎ soldiers had only retreated on the order by their Commanding Officer for “tactical withdrawal” after the terrorists regrouped and overwhelmed the soldiers  with “AA anti-aircraft guns, APCS, RPGs, GPMGs, and other ‎sophisticated and superior weapons”.

He added, “The claimants particularly aver that due to the insurgents’ counter-attack, and the re-capture of Bazza from the personnel of the defendant (the Nigerian Army), their Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. A.A Egbejule, in line with military tradition, ordered tactical withdrawal by the Joint Force so as to re-strategise.

“The claimants further and particularly aver that consistent with military tradition, the Joint Force had to comply with the superior order of their Commanding Officer, hence they withdrew as ordered by their Commanding Officer.”

‎They therefore want the court to, among other prayers, declare their sacking on the basis of failure to perform military duties and disobedience to standing order as “unconstitutional, illegal, irregular and ultra-vires”.

They also want the court to order the Army to pay them their accrued salaries and other entitlements since they were sacked in January, N1m to each of them for breach of fundamental right to fair hearing and freedom from discrimination as well as N5m as the cost for prosecuting the suit.

But the Army, through its notice of preliminary objection filed by its lawyer, Commander A.A Abu, insisted that the plaintiffs were duly sacked and thus asked the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.

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Reps Committees probes identities of contractors involved in N18.9b bush clearing contracts

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The Public Account Committee of the House of Representatives, PAC on Wednesday, resolved to unmask the real identities of the owners of the companies which took contracts valued the sum of N18.9 billion from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for clearing of bushes, land preparation, rehabilitation of soil plant lab and others during the last COVID-19 lockdown of the country.

The resolution followed the appearance of representatives of two of the 20 affected companies at the resumed investigative hearing of the Committee on queries to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of the federal government by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation.

The affected companies are: Easy Construction Company LTD and NUKAAG VENTURES LTD respectively while the remaining 18 companies failed to show up.

The Committee being chaired by Hon Wole Oke (PDP-OSUN) said that the two representatives of the Companies (Johnson Philip and Taiwo Idowu), were of the Managerial cadre and as such not competent to appear before the Committee going by the Rules of the House.

Responding to a question posed by the Chairman of the Committee on whether they were familiar with the submission submitted to the Committee on the award and execution of the contractors so as not to mislead it, they both said no.

Consequently, the Committee directed the duo to leave immediately and directed that the Managing Directors or Chairmen of the companies should personally appear before it and speak to the submission before the Committee.

In addition, Hon Oke directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC to furnish the Committee, the detailed information of the affected 20 companies, including year of incorporation, Corporate offices, names of the owners, shareholders amongst others.

According to him, “we are not concerned about who won the contracts, what we are after is to deter value for money paid out and the sites of the projects, and we will carry that mission to the latter.

“The Clerk should also write the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, to furnish the Committee about the financial status of the companies.

Hon Oke assured that the Committee would carry out a diligent investigation into the matter as it was interested in finding out the location of the projects and the significance of such projects to the country.

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Blackout looms as IKEDC stops operations

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The Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEC) has announced a shutdown of operations following the issues between the National Union of Electricity Employees and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TUC).

In a statement on Wednesday via its verified Twitter handle, @IkejaElectric, the Disco announced the shutdown of operations.

The statement read partly, “Due to the ongoing nationwide picketing of Transmission Stations by the NUEE, we are currently experiencing disruption of power supply as most stations within our network have been shut down.

“Kindly bear with us as we await an amicable resolution by the relevant stakeholders.”

Organised labour had on Tuesday directed workers in the power sector to shutdown and commence an indefinite strike over pending issues with the TCN.

The aggrieved workers under the aegis of the NUEE were at the Abuja national headquarters of the TCN Tuesday as a prelude to the proposed strike.

The union noted that the strike was in protest of a directive by the TCN Board mandating all PMs in acting capacity going to the Annual General Meeting to appear for promotional interviews.

In a circular titled, ‘Call to Action,’ which was addressed to senior assistant general secretaries and zonal organising secretaries, dated August 15, 2022, the General Secretary of the NUEE, Joe Ajaero, directed electricity workers to ensure total compliance, vowing to paralyse operations of the TCN nationwide over anti-masses activities.

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Electricity workers’ strike throws South-East into blackout

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Power distribution has been halted completely in the entire South-East States.

This follows the industrial action embarked upon by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) at the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) power stations.

The development threw the five South-East States into a total blackout, Wednesday afternoon.

Emeka Ezeh, Head Corporate Communications, EEDC, confirmed that that operations across the franchise area of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) have been disrupted.

He said, “as a result of this development all our feeders are out of supply and this has affected supply to our esteemed customers in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States.

“Consultations are ongoing among critical stakeholders in the power sector to address this issue and possibly restore supply.

“The Management of EEDC hereby encourage customers and neighbourhood associations to be vigilant and protect the electrical installations within their environment against elements who might take advantage of this outage to vandalise these installations.”

“We, therefore, appeal for continued patience and understanding while this is resolved,” he noted.

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