Saturday, June 15, 2019 5:42 pm
• Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai: Chief of Army Staff
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
14 Soldiers made up of three officers and eleven other ranks serving under the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt have been put on trial before a General Court Martial (GCM) that commenced its inaugural sitting today, Saturday June 16.
The General Officer Commanding 6 Division and Land Component Commander Operation Delta Safe, Major-General Jamil Sarham, who inaugurated the Court Martial at the Python Officers’ Mess, stated that the Nigerian Army being a creation the Nigerian Constitution to carry out specific tasks to support the government effort in providing security for the Nigerian Nation ensures that discipline and professionaliism are imperative.
Citing Section 131 of the Armed Forces Act therefore conferred on him as GOC the power to convene this General Court Martial and by so doing to try the accused persons who have allegedly violated some codes guiding our professional conduct.
He explained that “The offences for which the accused persons are being tried ranges from murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, desertion, offences in relation to public and services property, disobedience to standing orders and conducts to the prejudice to service discipline, all punishable under the Armed Forces Act CAP A20 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
Major-General Jamil Sarham further said that the Court Martial, is only one of the apparatus put in place by the Armed Forces of Nigeria to discipline its erring personnel.
He explained also that the establishment of Court Martial is predicated on the fact that the Armed Forces of Nigeria holds its personnel in high esteem, hence its resolve to ensure that a thorough investigation must be conducted before any suspect can be put on trial as it is in the instant case.
“Let me at this juncture assure all of us that justice will not only be done on this entire trial, but be seen to have been done. This is not only because the case against each accused person was thoroughly investigated to ensure that an innocent person is not wrongly tried and punished”
For justice to be done and also seen to be done, he said, the HQ 6 Division has painstakingly selected credible officers as members of the Court Martial.
In addition to that, due regard was accorded to these officers having in-depth knowledge of military law and outstanding experience of military duties
He urged the members of the Court Martial to be just and fair in the conduct of the trial to ensure that each accused person is given a fair trial as trial is not only aimed at seeing that offenders are punished but to serve as deterrent to others so as to prevent future occurrence.
GOC said a fair trial should “a 3-way traffic; Justice for the accused, justice for the victim and justice for the state. I must state clearly that the accused persons are presumed innocent of the offences charged against them until proven guilty by this Court.”
In a brief remark, the President Court Martial, Brig-General Bassey Etuk made up a Seven member panel assured that the Court will give fair trial to the suspects, according to the provisions of the Laws.
In military tradition, there two types of Court Martial, the General Court Martial and the Special Court Martial. The Special Court Martial handles more serious offences like Mutiny or attempt to topple the state popularly know as Coup d’etat.
Suspects under Court Martial are free to engage the services of Civil Lawyers of their choice or military Lawyers . They can go on appeal to the Appeal Court when not satisfied with the judgement.
Family members of the accused were invited to witness the inauguration of the the General Court Martial.