11 August 2016
A General Court Martial has been set up by the military to try 20 officers and men accused of committing various offences within the war theatre against Boko Haram: “Operation Lafiya Dole’’.
It will prosecute four officers and 16 rank-and-file others.
Operation Lafiya Dole is the military codename of the battle against Boko Haram insurgents that launched war against Nigeria from the northeast part of the country in 2009.
Brig.-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, Acting GOC, 7 Div., Nigerian Army, who convened the court martial said one of the aims is to achieve timely and quick dispensation of justice within the framework provided in relevant statute books.
“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 requests for frivolous adjournments which could lead to unnecessary delays in the trial processes,’’ he said.
He enjoined the court martial to discharge the assignment in accordance with the appropriate extant laws and ensure that members’ opinions and decision on all the cases brought before the court was not in any way beclouded with bias, external pressure or by extraneous factors.
“The outcome of this General Court Martial must therefore be based on careful appreciation of the whole facts of each case and evidence placed before you in the course of trial of these accused persons.
“You are to ensure that the judgment you pass on the accused persons will stand the test of appellate court, public opinion and above all, that of the Almighty Creator,’’ Ezugwu stressed.
He assured the accused that they were all presumed innocent until the court finds otherwise and added that they should be assured also that their rights to fair hearing and other fundamental human rights would be adhered to throughout the trial.
He said the Nigerian Army assures the nation and the international community that the military would not condone cases of violation of laws of armed conflict in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities.