Lafiya Dole: 20 Nigerian soldiers face Court Martial.
Following alleged involvement in dealing and selling of arms and ammunition to enemies of the nation, twenty soldiers comprising four officers and sixteen men of the Nigerian army have been arraigned before a court martial over charges of sabotage and conspiracy.
Inaugurating the court martial at the military media center in Maiduguri, the Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier Victor Ezugwu, advised the president of the court and its members against unnecessary adjournments, while ensuring that justice is seen to be done to all parties.
It was gathered that the soldiers facing the court martial were accused offences such as illegal and unauthorized arms deals, human rights abuses and alleged murder.
Details of names the soldiers involved in the court martial were kept from the media as sources said that until the court martial concludes its sitting, it would not want to reveal the names as the soldiers were still undergoing trial.
The speech read by the Acting GOC at the inauguration of the court martial reads, ‘Following the directive from Army Headquarters (AHQ) that a standing General Court Martial (GCM) be set up for Op Lafiya Dole to try offences committed by personnel within the Theatre of Operation, I issued a Convening Order for a GCM on 5 August 2016 and the members were directed to assemble today at this venue for the formal inauguration of the GCM.
“As you are all aware, discipline is the bedrock of the military profession and to have a disciplined body of officers and men, there must be justice because it is when there is justice that discipline can be achieved.
“Justice implies that infractions of the law must be promptly reported, investigated and the accused persons prosecuted within a reasonable time through the laid down rules, regulations and procedures.
“This GCM is therefore convened to try a total of 4 officers and 16 other ranks of the Nigerian Army who have committed various offences within the Theatre of Operation Lafiya Dole.
“It must be stated at this juncture that one of the aims of a Court Martial is to achieve timely and quick dispensation of justice within the framework provided in relevant statute books.
“Therefore, it is important that both the Prosecution and the Accused Persons or their counsels are mindful of this fact and strive to shun all forms of antics such as request for frivolous adjournments which could lead to unnecessary delays in the trial processes. It is often said in the legal parlance that, justice delayed is justice denied.
“For the President and Members of the GCM, I enjoin you to dispense this all important assignment in accordance with the appropriate extant laws and ensure that your opinions and decision on all the cases brought before you is not in any way beclouded with bias, external pressure or by extraneous factors.
“The outcome of this GCM must therefore be based on careful appreciation of the whole facts of each case and evidence placed before you in the course of trial of these accused persons.
“Finally, you are to please ensure that the judgment you pass on the accused person will stand the test of appellate court, public opinion and above all, that of the Almighty Creator.
“For the accused, be assured that you are all presumed innocent until this court finds otherwise. I want to further state that your rights to fair hearing and other fundamental human rights would be adhered to throughout this trial.
“The Nigerian Army through this action want to assure the nation and international community that we shall not condone cases of violation of laws of armed conflict in the discharge of our constitutional responsibilities.
“As I formally inaugurate this GCM, I wish the President, members of the GCM, the Prosecution, the accused persons and their counsels all the best throughout the sitting.”