Nigerian first female soldier paratrooper, Captain Terkumbur Josephine Ancha has dragged the Nigerian Army and Defence Minister before the National Industrial Court (NIC) where she is demanding N1 billion as general and aggravated damages for unlawful retirement from service.
Other defendants in the suit slated for hearing this morning are Chief of Army Staff, Army Council, and Chief of Defence Staff.
The 43-year-old award winning paratrooper was sacked by the Military command on the ground that bottles of alcohol were found on board the aircraft that lifted Nigerian contingents [including her] to Darfur, Sudan.
In the suit, she is pressing for an order of court declaring her purported compulsory retirement without trial as ineffective, unlawful, null and void, and that her contract of employment being protracted by statute, can only be terminated in accordance with laid down statutory procedure.
The plaintiff was among the 50 Nigerian women that were honoured by President Goodluck Jonathan on the 50th anniversary of the country and also the first female soldier inducted into the Nigerian Women Hall of Fame.
Her travails began on August 25, 2009, when she and the commanding officer, Lt. Col B.Y. Sakaba, were recalled to Nigeria and arrested on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
They were subsequently detained for three months at the headquarters garrison officers’ mess at the Mogadishu Barracks, Asokoro. She was later sacked on October 20, 2009 and later retired on November 17, 2009, an action which ignited the suit. On board that aircraft were seven officers and 154 soldiers, and the plaintiff wonders why she would be the only one relieved of her job.
“According to the plaintiff, she was detained alongside male officers for three months under dehumanizing and degrading conditions without being informed of her offence. “No sanitary pads were supplied to me, even though the Army authorities knew I was a young woman,” she revealed.
“Even from the flight manifest, seven officers and 154 soldiers were on board the aircraft that allegedly carried the alcoholic drinks to Darfur, only the plaintiff and Lt. Col B.Y Sakaba (who was not even on the aircraft but had travelled to Darfur about three days earlier), were arrested, detained and eventually punished,” affidavit revealed.
She stressed that nobody has alleged till date that the offensive luggage belonged to the plaintiff or that she was the one that ensured it was ferried to Sudan.
“I took only two bags containing my personal clothes and Army regalia to Sudan in that aircraft. While in detention, a letter of compulsory retirement dated 20th October, 2009, was served on me, indicating that I was compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Army.”
The embattled litigant is praying the court for an order quashing the compulsory retirement with ignominy, as well as reinstating her forthwith her rank as Captain in the Nigerian Army, and a further order directing the Army to place her on the current rank and or position she would have been, but for her unlawful retirement hereby being challenged, with full and or associated rights, privileges or benefits that may accrue or ought to have accrued her.