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EX-CAPTAIN CHARLES EKEAGWU
THE NIGERIAN ARMY
Charles Ekeagwu was commissioned into the Nigerian Army and rose to the rank of Captain. In 1990 he was accused of fraud and taken before a Special Military Tribunal for the recovery of public property. He was acquitted and discharged on 30/7/93 and redeployed to the Central Finance Department of the Army in Apapa, Lagos.
Thereafter, he was dismissed by the Army Council by a letter dated the 3rd of October 1994. He sued the Nigerian Army for wrongful dismissal, reinstatement, payment of entitlements, and N10,000,000 (Ten million Naira) as general damages. Hon. Justice E. O. Sanyaolu of the Federal High Court in a considered judgment delivered on the 28th day of September, 1999 declared the dismissal null and void and of no effect. The order for reinstatement and the claim for general damages were refused. Finally, the trial Judge ordered that Charles Ekeagwu be paid all his entitlements.
By a letter ref. No: NA/226/MS dated 3/7/01, twenty-two months after the judgment of Hon. Justice E. O. Sanyaolu, the Nigerian Army compulsorily retired Charles Ekeagwu. He was paid his terminal benefits which he collected.
Charles Ekeagwu filed a suit challenging his compulsory retirement. The case proceeded to trial at the end of which the learned trial Judge, the Hon. Justice S. J. Adah dismissed Charles Ekegwu’s claims.
Can an employee challenge the termination of his employment/retirement after he has collected terminal benefits?
The Court of Appeal stated that the record of proceedings shows that on Charles Ekegwu’s compulsory retirement, he received his retirement benefits. Upon receipt of his retirement benefits from the Nigerian Army, Charles Ekeagwu lost the right to challenge his retirement. Charles Ekeagwu by the act of collecting his retirement benefits made his retirement mutual, no longer compulsory, he has consented to the retirement. It would have been different if Charles Ekeagwu had refused to accept the retirement benefits, but once he has received it, and it is not in dispute that he did receive his retirement benefits, he puts an end to any claim for wrongful retirement. It is inequitable to accept payment which is called retirement benefit and still maintain that the retirement is wrong.
The Court of Appeal, therefore, dismissed the appeal.