Nigerian Army authorities have approved the court martial of a Lieutenant and 17soldiers who have been investigated to have assisted members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram in carrying out deadly attacks in various locations in the north, including the Federal Capital City, Abuja.
The officer and soldiers who are members of the Joint Task Force code-named ‘Operation Restore Order’ in Borno State and the Special Task Force also known as ‘Operation Safe Heaven’ in Plateau State will appear before the court in Jos, plateau state.
They are being tried under charges termed, “communication with the enemies, cowardly behaviour, murder and manslaughter.” The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3rd Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Ebisowei Awala, disclosed this while inaugurating a five-member court martial panel.
According to him, court martial remains one of the instruments conferred on Army authorities by the Armed Forces Act chapter A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria to address problems in the army.
Gen. Awala said, “Discipline is the foundation on which the military career rests; as a matter of fact, discipline and loyalty are two essential requirements no officer or soldier, who wants to succeed in professional soldiering, can afford to lack.
“It is the duty of superiors to observe, correct and instantly deal with negligence or any misconduct on the part of subordinates.
“When there is any breach, it is expected that appropriate disciplinary measures must be taken by commanders to forestall future occurrences.
“This way, the Nigerian Army can continue to play its constitutional role and sustain its accolade as the pride of the Nigerian nation.”
He however, enjoined members of court martial to ensure that justice is done, saying “I want to implore this general court martial to ensure that no effort is spared to achieve this three-way traffic of the justice system; in this case, of the accused, the Nigerian Army and the state.
“Where a person is convicted of an offence, sentence ought to be passed. Such sentences must be humanely meted out.
“Punishment is among the means available for the maintenance of discipline in the Nigerian Army; as such the kind and amount of punishment should be adequate enough to achieve its purpose and serve as a deterrent to others.’’
The soldiers were said to have pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.