By Ndahi Marama
MAIDUGURI — The Nigerian Army, yesterday, court-martialed 20 officers and men for various offences allegedly committed within the Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East sub-region of the country.
Of the number, four are officers and their offences, according to the Army, range from selling ammunition to terrorists to murder.
Inaugurating a seven-member General Court Martial, GCM, yesterday, at the Maiduguri media centre, Acting General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, said the court martialing of four officers and 16 men 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 was 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.
Ezugwu, who noted that justice delayed was justice denied, said: “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, ensure that your opinions on all the cases brought before you are not in any way beclouded with bias, external pressure or by extraneous factors.”
He said the outcome of the court martial must be based on careful appreciation of the whole facts of each case and evidence placed before the court martial.
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 the Nigerian Army, through the court martialing, would 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 verdicts passed by the GCM at the Appeal and Supreme courts.