By Olasunkanmi Akoni
NIGERIA yesterday observed this year’s remembrance for the country’s fallen heroes who died in active service as members of the Nigerian Armed Forces. This came at a time the family of a distressed former military personnel, Kingsley Iberi, who claims to have been wrongfully dismissed from the Nigerian Army, was lamenting and telling their tale of woe to every sympathetic ear.
According to the 63-year-old dismissed Lieutenant Colonel, who is currently down with stroke, his entitlements have not been paid for the past 14 years, adding that all appeals to the Army authorities had fallen on deaf ears, thus leaving him rather frustrated.
Iberi, who hails from Igbanke, Edo State, joined the Army in January 1972 as a Cadet Officer, having finished from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna State. His first place of posting was 24 Infantry Battalion in Gboko, Benue State.
Subsequently, he rose to the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel in December 1990, but was later dismissed from the Army in 1998 and made to serve a two-year jail term at a Military Police Cell in Apapa after a court martial, which his family described as wrongfully done.
Iberi, who was diagnosed of stroke and paralysis in June 2006, has patient’s cards at the Aburime-Changsu Oriental Diagnostic Hospital, Allen Avenue, Ikeja(a Nigeria-Korea Acupuncture Centre) and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where he visits for treatment.
The fragile looking Iberia who could hardly walk on his own, now uses a stand-up lift to stand and walk.
Iberi who struggled to speak to Vanguard Metro, VM, from his sick bed, somehow stated that since age could not allow him return to service, the authorities of the Nigerian Army should pay his entitlements in accordance with court’s ruling on the matter.
”I was not just wrongfully dismissed from the Army, I was made to serve a two-year jail term at a Military Police Cell in Apapa. It was when I came out that I filed the appeal, and the court ruled that both the court martial judgement and the term I served were invalid, and I should be reinstated and paid my entitlements.
“ The last salary I was paid was in June 1997 before the hasty judgement. I want the authorities to implement the court ruling and pay me all my entitlements.”
His third son, Mr. Charles Iberi, in a sober mood said: “I have been the one taking care of him. The court has sent copies of the judgement; I had personally delivered the attached letters to the relevant offices but yet no response. I have done everything to get the attention of the Army all to no avail”.
He narrated: “He was tried by the Army for conspiracy, cheating and impersonation, which he knew nothing about. In 2002, Daddy filed an appeal against his dismissal at the Federal Court of Appeal, Lagos, and the court ruled in February 2013 that he should be reinstated, while his entitlements from 1998, when he was wrongfully dismissed, be paid to him. Up till now, the Nigerian Army is yet to obey the court judgement.”
In a copy of the judgment made available to VM, dated February 22, 2013, and presided over by Justices Ibrahim Saulawa, Joseph Ikyegh and Rita Pemu, the court martial verdict was declared invalid, and Iberi was asked to be reinstated and paid his full entitlements.
The paper, with Appeal Number, CA/L/736M/2009, reads: “Having perused the briefs of the argument of the learned counsel to the respective parties, I hereby concur to the effect that the present appeal is meritorious. The judgment of the court martial, delivered on May 26, 1998, is hereby set aside for being perverse.
“The conviction and sentence passed upon the appellant stand quashed. The appellant is accordingly discharged and acquitted. I abide by the consequential order reinstating the appellant into the Nigerian Army with immediate effect.”
Charles continued, “Despite the court of appeal’s judgment which mandated the reinstatement of my father and payment of his entitlements, efforts to get the attention of the military headquarters to obey the ruling had failed.”