The Nigerian Army on Wednesday constituted a court-martial for offenders in the counter-insurgency warfare in the North-East area of the country.
Twenty soldiers (four officers and 16 other ranks) were bought before the newly inaugurated court for various offences including murder and sales of fire arms in the ongoing war against insurgency in the North-East.
Inaugurating the General Court-Martial with Brig. Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi as its president in Maiduguri, the acting General Officer Commanding, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Victor Ezugwu, said it was established to try offences committed by personnel within the Operation Lafiya Dole theatre of operation.
According to Ezugwu, it is public knowledge that 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.
He said, “The 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 counsel are mindful of this fact and strive to shun all forms of antics such as request for frivolous adjournments which could lead to delays in the trial processes. It is often said in the legal parlance that, justice delayed is justice denied.”
He asked the president and members of the GCM to dispense the assignment in accordance with the appropriate extant laws and ensure that their opinions and decision on all the cases brought before them were not in any way beclouded by bias, external pressure or extraneous factors.
Speaking to journalists after the inauguration, Ezugwu disclosed that some of the accused were involved in criminal activities which included murder, crimes against civilians, and illegal sales of firearms.
The GOC said over 100 soldiers had been tried and punished at the Brigade level over acts of indiscipline and unprofessionalism.
He disclosed that there was little or non-issue with indiscipline in the theatre as 15,000 soldiers had been awarded medals of excellence in the theatre of operation for patriotism and gallantry.
Speaking during the inaugural sitting, the president of the court, Brig. Gen. Adeniyi, said there was no need for the accused to entertain any fear as they would be given fair hearing.
He said: “I must assure all especially the accused that they have nothing to fear. We are going to be fair to all of them. Be guided by the constitution and all other military laws. We would be fair and just. There are higher courts where the judgements here can be appealed. You have the right for legal representation.”