The Nigerian Army’s seeming disregard for rule of law has come to the fore again with another revelation regarding Lt. Colonel Abdulfatai Mohammed, a Boko Haram nightmare.
The military unit is refusing to reinstate him in spite of separate court judgements and National Assembly intervention.
His fate is similar to that of Colonel Auwal Suleiman, who also won a lawsuit against the army but yet to be reabsorbed.
Like Suleiman that led the arrest of 377 insurgents in 2009, Mohammed coordinated the annihilation of over 200 terrorists in a 2014 operation in Konduga, Borno State.
The duo are among 38 officers compulsorily retired by the Army in June 2016 without a query or indictment for any offence.
In June 2020, DAILY POST published the full list of the dismissed personnel.
On January 14, 2020, Justice Rukiya Hasstrup at National Industrial Court, Abuja, faulted Mohammed’s forceful pullout.
The judge said the action was “wrongful, unconstitutional, null and void. The Army failed to act with respect to the law”.
In May 2020, Justice Edith Agbakogba approved that contempt of court charge be filed against military chiefs for delaying compliance with a valid order on the ‘Army 38’.
DAILY POST reports that Army and Defence Headquarters continue to maintain silence leaving the complainants in limbo.
The authorities tactically shun media enquiries for an update on subsisting court rulings, without providing proper explanation on why judgements are flouted.
Mohammed was the Commanding Officer of 195 Battalion between 2014 and 2015 when Boko Haram seized a number of territories.
That time, the retired Colonel led battles in and around Konduga alongside troops of 103 Battalion.
After the fall of Gwoza, Bama and Kawuri, Mohammed and soldiers secured 8 successive victories against Boko Haram which attempted to overrun Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
In appreciation, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah sent him and personnel gifts, while ex-Governor Kashim Shettima paid a thank-you visit.
The officer was officially commended for the gallantry displayed against terrorists in the North-East.
The Letter of Commendation was signed by the then Commander 26 Taskforce Brigade in Konduga, D. H. Ali-Keffi, now a Major General.
He recalled that on the night of December 1-2, 2014, the position of Task Force Brigade and 21 Brigade which formed the covering force of 7 Division in Konduga came under Boko Haram attack.
Keffi said the hit was preceded by one-hour bombardment with anti-aircraft guns and other heavy calibre weapons fired at troops, followed by an offensive from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).
The General expressed delight that at the end of the battle, Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) suffered heavy casualties.
“Over 200 estimated killed; more injured as attested by strewn corpses and trails of bloodstains on the battlefield. I observed how you handled the forward troops, the main focus of the Boko Haram offensive.
“You gave effective orders over the radio which ensured that the troops in the trenches, as well as the armoured vehicles, were well-positioned to meet any and every BHT onslaught.
“You employed artillery and mortar in a manner that led to serious degradation of the BHT and destroyed two VBIEDs. You skilfully integrated most of the battlefield operating systems into an effective fighting machine.
“I was most impressed by your leadership. Your composure over the radio reassured the command and elicited the right response from the troops who met the enemy attack with confidence and morale.
“You were undoubtedly MY HERO OF THE NIGHT. I salute your courage, exemplary leadership, and professional competence”, General Keffi noted in the memo PRNIigeria published.
Also saluting Mohammed for the operation that recaptured Gwoza, Bama and Kawuri, the Army wrote a letter with Ref No: Hq26/TFBDE/G1/300/03.
The commander admitted raids superintended by the Colonel deserved praise as he not only exhibited uncommon courage but exemplary leadership which encouraged troops.
“I am honoured and privileged to have engaged in combat alongside such a brave officer and gentleman like you. You have proved by your action that you are an asset to the Nigerian Army and the country at large”, the letter read.
Mohammed, a member of NDA 47 Regular Combatant Course, was commissioned in September 2000 to the Infantry Corps.
He served as an instructor at Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) and was Military Assistant to Chief of Staff Forces of the United Nation Mission in Liberia.
Formerly Op LAFIYA DOLE 195 Battalion Commander and Staff Officer Grade 1 at the Army School of Infantry, Mohammed holds Master’s Degrees in Public Administration as well as in Defence and Strategic Studies.