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March 4, 20207min440

A Navy Commodore, Linus Ugwu who was allegedly retired unlawfully, has slammed a N1billion suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Defence, Nigeria Navy and four others.

Other defendants in the suit before the National Industrial Court, sitting in Lagos, are the Nigerian Navy Board, Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Vice Admiral) and Chief of Defence Staff.

The claimant through his counsel Mr. Stanley Ochoga, said he was purportedly retired from the services of the third defendant by the fifth defendant with effect from February 25, 2019.

In a 78 paragraph affidavit, the claimant averred that he was persistently and maliciously witch-hunted by the fifth defendant since 2007 till date as a result of his legal review which contradicted the report of Board of inquiry by the 6th defendant following the investigations into the alleged wrongful dismissal of one  Seaman Amadi on official number X10155 from services of 3rd defendant.

Ugwu averred that he was appointed Director Legal Services, Naval Headquarters between 2010 and 2011, noting that he served under the 6th defendant who was the Chief of Administration Naval headquarters.

According to him, during the period under review, the 6th defendant for no justifiable reason refused to update his personal evaluation, which was his duty as the reviewing officer thereby depriving him of such a report necessary for his career progression.

The claimant also stated that the 3rd defendant acting under the prompting of the 6th defendant arraigned him before a Special Court-Martial in 2012, for alleged disobedience and negligent performance of duty, but he was discharged and acquitted.

Furthermore, the claimant averred that since he filed his pleas on May 30, 2019, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th defendants had resorted to threatening him, through phone calls and from senior officers that they would not comply with any judicial order (s) in connection with the suit.

The claimant also averred that consequent upon his purported retirement, by the 3rd and 5th defendants, his monthly salary and allowances had been stopped by the 3rd and 5th defendants with effect from March 1, 2019,  depriving the claimant means of livelihood and occasioning emotional distress to the claimant’s family.

He is asking for among others, “a declaration that the claimant is still in the employment or in the services of the 3rd defendant with the rank of commodore and entitled to the payment of his emoluments, salaries and all financial benefits, monthly allowances in the employment or services of the 3rd defendant by virtue of the 3rd defendant’s terms and conditions of employment as may be modified over the years with the defendants. A declaration that the claimant could only be promoted to the rank of commodore by the 3rd and 4th defendants with effect from January 19, 2012, having lost no seniority in the rank of captain.

“An order of court setting aside the 3rd defendant’s letter of retirement from service dated December 20, 2018 and referenced NHQ 02/687/06/NS/VOL.X/401 issued and served on the claimant by the 3rd defendant in the employment of the 3rd defendant.

“An order reinstating the claimant into the 3rd defendant’s employment/ service and in the position/ rank held by the claimant in the 3rd defendant’s employment/service prior to the defendant’s purported letter of retirement dated December 20, 2018.

An order of mandamus compelling the defendants particularly the 4th and 5th defendants to promote the claimant to the rank of Rear Admiral in the service or employment of the 3rd defendant.

When the matter came up for hearing, the claimant’s counsel Mr. Stanley Ochoga, told the court that he had not been served with any of the defendant’s processes.

He told Justice O. A. Obaseki- Osaghae, that the claimant is out of a job and wants his case to be dispensed with.

Ochoga said on the last adjourned date on January 20, 2020, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants did not respond, while the seventh defendant did not file anything up till now.

He said Mr. P. M. Okon, from the Ministry of Justice, made an undertaken that he was going to respond and none of them had filed anything.

In his response counsel to the first defendant, Mr. George Ekwata told the court that the first defendant had filed its statement of defense dated July 11, 2019, and filed the processes on August 21, 2019.

The counsel to the 3rd, 5th and 6th defendants, Mrs. Damilola Awoyemi, said the defendants were yet to file, their statement of defense as a witness to dispose to the oath, was on official assignment.

The 2nd, 4th, and 7th defendants were not represented, but Justice Obaseki- Osaghae, said they had filed their statements of defense, dated February 6, before the court, but that the processes were not ready.

After listening to the submissions of parties, the judge adjourned the case to June 3& 4, 2020, for trial.

She ordered that hearing notice should be issued and served on the council of the 2nd, 4th, and 7th defendants.

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