By Hassan Zaggi
An Army officer, Denis Zaro with Force number 93NA/37/839 who was allegedly wrongfully dismissed from service in 1998 has appealed to the Army authorities to reconsider his case and reinstate him.
He was dismissed with 6 others on the same day, but three were later recalled back to their duty post.
Responding to questions from The AUTHORITY, the Mr Zaro said that he was not given fair hearing to defend the allegations leveled against him before his verbal dismissal from the Army.
Zaro and other six victims were accused of abetting and aiding stealing.
While explaining what transpired, he said: “I went to guard duty at Fort Babangida now Niger Barracks on February 16, 1998. On resumption of duty, the guard commander L/CL Elisha Tankare divided the duty post for us. Some to House No. 50-52 and others to House No. 54-56. I and one Patrick Ulam were posted to House No. 54-56.
“However, on February 20, I took permission from the Guard Commander at about 5pm to go and see my family in Yakubu Gowon Barracks, on coming back at about 7pm, I was told of an incident that happened at Flat 50 in Fort Babangida (Niger Barracks).
“The incident was that a civilian- Mallam Ibrahim Abubakar was arrested at the main gate with a refrigerator and on cross examination by the guards at the gate, he told them that one Sani Ahmed and Ndanusa Bako (soldiers) sold it to them from House No. 50. The civilian was asked to return the item to the house and was allowed to go but his vehicle was detained by those at the gate.
“The following day the civilian was called to come and identify, on parade those soldiers whom he said sold the deep freezer to him. Out of the whole lot of us, the man pointed to Sani Ahmed and Ndanusa Bako as the soldiers that sold the item to him. From there, the two soldiers were taken to the guardroom while the rest of us were asked to go free. They were in the guardroom for over six months before their case was tried.
“When the case came up for trial, instead of trying those already indicted and in guardroom, all of us who went to guard that day were called and told that we have been dismissed from the Nigeria Army.
“We were not given the opportunity to defend ourselves. We were forced out of the barracks under armed escorts as common criminals.
were dismissed, three have been reinstated including the guard commander.”
He, therefore, lamented that: “I am pained because I am innocent of these allegations and sincerely, I don’t know anything about it.”
When asked if he wrote a formal complaint to the Nigeria Army since the incident happened, he said: “ When this incident happened, over 20 years ago, the Army headquarters was still in Lagos. I went there myself and submitted my complaint letter and was given the assurance that I will be restored back, but unfortunately, when I came back to Abuja, the charges were different from the offence they earlier said we committed.
“They said they charged us for aiding and abetting criminality.”
Explaining how he was dismissed, he said: “One fateful Saturday while we were doing parade, an officer came and stopped us and began call to our names and took us to a particular location.
“They brought out all the people that were under detention for various offences and joined with us and shared us into groups. They began to read offences of each group and were sacked.
“And when it came to our turn, after they read our offence that we went to an officer’s house and took a deep freezer, I raised my hand and complaint that when the incident happened, I went to see my family, hence was not aware of the issue, but I was not given any attention.”
When asked what he want the Nigeria Army to do for him, he said: “I want to go back to work.”
He, therefore, called on the Army authorities to passionately review his case and returned him back to work, insisting that he did not know anything about the incident he was accused of.
The wrongful dismissal, he said, has caused serious damage to his to hard-earned reputation and that of his family.
Findings by The AUTHORITY revealed that his lawyers- Z.Oche &Co have written several letters of appeal for the Army to consider its stand, but all were fruitless.
The latest one was written on May 4, 2017.
Others were written on March 12, 1999; December 21, 2000; August 22, 2004; March 31, 2005; May 17th, 2011 and December 8, 2016.