The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor has said that, operation’s and conduct of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is anchored on discipline, and the rule of law adding that what qualifies qualifies you to be a personnel of the military is discipline
Speaking on Thursday, 16 February 2023 at a public presentation of a book titled Fundamentals of Military Law and Practice authored by Major Mike Kebonkwu (Rtd) of Koyen-Hi Kebonkwu Chamber at Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja the CDS said “without discipline, no military personnel can perform effectively while discharging their constitutional responsibilities. Therefore the actions or inactions of personnel is in the focal point of view to have an effective military”
According to him, the book launch is essential because it helps the military to X-ray some of the armed Forces of Nigeria legal documents “and how to add onto our activities within the armed forces.
He noted that personnel of the armed forces must be proactive, be prepared and expose themselves, and not solely lean on the Armed Forces -sponsored training programmes, consider their zeal for continuous learning to keep pace with the demand of global best practices in military system.
Pointing out that the armed Forces is a creation of law, he said the constitution established the basis for the armed forces of Nigeria and all personnel conduct, all activities are based on law.
He said, “So our tactics, techniques and procedures are formulated from various laws, the principal one being the Nigerian Constitution and other legal provisions including the international humanitarian Law, International human Rights Law and other legal enablers”.
Consequently, he said Military personnel must invest and improve themselves by acquiring more knowledge in order to perform well beyond regimental trainings provided for them by the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The book reviewer Mr A F Adasu said the 261 Pages book, comprised of seven chapters including the Armed Forces Act, noting “This book is the latest entrant in military jurisprudence from the point of view of a hard- core professional of military law; an investigator, a trial attorney and thoroughbred practitioner of military law, by no other but Mike Kebonkwu.
He said the book examines what military duties are which may not be exhaustive and insist that personal duties of a commander or superior officer will not constitute military duty.
The Chapter three looks at offences generally and narrows it to military offences that are peculiarly service related. The book interrogates some offences created under the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN 2004 which appear to be in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
He added that in Chapter four, which speaks on Command responsibility he found the author’s preference to introduce this topic very instructive because commanders are known to have been punished because of the acts and omissions of their subordinates using command responsibility as an omnibus cover.
Mr Adasu stated also that on Chapter 6 looks at summary trial. The book attempts to bring out details of procedures of summary trial in its beauty at the Battalion level which can be better appreciated in a moot court trial.
He opined that summary trial should not lead to dismissal of soldiers given the reason that because the soldier is not represented by counsel of his choice during summary trial it therefore offends the provision of Section 36(6)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
The book descended heavily on plea bargain as inimical to administration of military justice especially as it affects regimental discipline. The issue is that even when plea bargain is done, it ignores the procedural requirement for the terms to be written down.
The military lawyers try to avoid rigorous trial process which one sees as indolence. Plea bargain more often than not is also not fair to the accused person because he is always in a disadvantageous position
In his vote of thanks, the author Major Mike Kebonkwu (Rtd) thanked the Chairman of the book presentation General Lucky Irabor, the Special guest of Honour, Chief of Army Staff ably represented noting that the book is an insight into the basis of military law and regimentation in the best military tradition.
He said the book focussed on the issue of why summary trial should not lead to dismissal of soldiers, ratings and airmen notwithstanding the position of the Acton as such procedural matter is contradictinction to the constitution as the Grundnorm.