The Nigerian Army has court-martialed 20 officers and soldiers for various offences allegedly committed as they wage the battle against Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East sub-region of the country.
The officers were accused of offences ranging from theft to murder.
Acting General Officer Commanding of 7 Division Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, inaugurated the seven-member General Court Martial (GCM) on Wednesday at the Maiduguri Media Centre.
He said the court-martialing of the four officers and 16 soldiers was to achieve timely and quick dispensation of justice within the framework of the statute books.
Discipline, according to him, is the bedrock of the military profession, adding that to have a disciplined body of officers and men, there must be justice. “It is when there is justice that discipline can be achieved,” said Ezugwu while inaugurating members of the GCM.
He said it is important for the prosecution and the accused persons, including their counsels, to be mindful of this fact; and strive to shun all forms of antics that could result in frivolous adjournments and delays in trial processes.
He said justice delayed is justice denied. “For the President, Brig-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi and six other members of the court martial to dispense this all-important assignment in accordance with the extant laws and ensure that your opinions on all the cases brought before you is not in any way beclouded with bias, external pressure or by extraneous factors,” he said.
He said the outcome of the court martial must be based on a careful appreciation of the whole facts of each case and evidence placed before the court-martialing of the accused officers and personnel.
For the accused, Ezugwu said: “Be assured that you are all presumed innocent until this honourable court finds otherwise. Your rights to fair hearing and other fundamental human rights would be adhered to
throughout this trial.”
He said that the Nigerian Army through this court-martialing shall not condone cases of violation of laws of armed conflict in the discharge of constitutional responsibilities.
He, however, noted that the accused persons could appeal for verdicts passed by the GCM at the Appeal and Supreme Courts.