Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, yesterday walked out Major Daniel Ehicheoya of the Nigerian Army Directorate of Legal Services, a representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Tukur Buratai.
This occurred at a hearing into a petition on compulsory retirement by Lt. Col. Abdulfatai Mohammed.
Mohammed’s case is part of a petition involving 21 other officers: two Major Generals, five Brigadier Generals, eight Colonels and seven Lieutenant Colonels, all compulsorily retired in June 2016.
The lawmakers expressed displeasure that Buratai, despite his insistence that the letter inviting him must be signed by Chairman of the Committee, did not appear.
The Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said “I was called two weeks ago that the Chief of Army Staff said I must sign the letter to him personally.
”So how come he is not here? It is an insult to us. When invitation letters are signed, it is by the Clerk, but he insisted I sign his. We have invited the Air Force Chief and he came here,” Anyanwu said.
“How can they just summarily retire young men, whom the country has spent so much money training?” he quipped.
In his address, Mohammed told the committee that he was wrongfully retired after 22 years of meritorious service in the Army which included an award of the First Order of Merit at the India Staff College.
“I was in my office on June 9, 2016 when I received a call that I have been compulsorily retired,” he recalled.
“I never received any query, nor faced a disciplinary panel, nor gotten into an altercation with any of my superiors.”
Mohammed said he was posted to Konduga in 2013 at the height of the Boko Haram crises and was part of the pivotal unit that ensured the strategic town did not fall to the hands of the insurgents.
“The day after I was retired, the NA declared in the media that the affected officers were involved in partisanship in the 2015 general election; that I was involved in election partisanship while on election duty in Edo State,” he said.
Mohammed insisted that he was nowhere in or around Edo State at the time of the elections, nor was he involved in election duty in any part of the country.
“The NA records show that I was actually fighting to protect this country in the North-east during the elections and I earned two commendations for bravery for risking my life for this country”.
He accused the leadership of the army of surreptitiously substituting the names of culpable officers with his name and other innocent officers in a gross act of corruption and deliberately misled the president on the matter.
Mohammed called for justice not just for himself but to protect fighting men and women who are risking their lives to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria.