Major-General Hassan Taiwo Dada, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Nigerian Army, inaugurated the court martial in Enugu on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. The process was instituted in pursuant to the Nigerian Armed Forces Act.
With this resounding inauguration, twenty-five soldiers and an officer are currently facing a court martial trial in the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army for various offences. They are drawn from various formations within the division, whose Area of Responsibility (AoR) covers the entire Southeast and Cross River states.
According to the GOC, court-martial is one of the vehicles used by the military to instill discipline among its personnel. He noted that the accused, who are Nigerian Army personnel and have committed various offences, cannot be tried summarily without a duly constituted court martial to give them a fair hearing.
The GOC said that just as in civil courts, the accused remained innocent until proven otherwise after going through the court martial and being given a fair hearing and the ability to defend themselves. He pinpointed that the court martial is empowered to try the accused persons, and if they were not found wanting, they would be discharged and acquitted of their alleged crimes. But if the accused is found guilty, he or she would be penalized according to the law for criminalizing such an offense.
Major.-General Dada assures, “Let me assure you that this court-martial will be guided by the principle of natural justice and fair hearing as encapsulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and to other extant laws and procedures related to your trial. The court is free from any external influences and we will ensure adequate time and facilities to ensure you defend yourselves, and allegations laid against the accused will be clearly verified and authenticated to ensure that “the innocents were never victimized”.
He urged the Defence Counsel of the military personnel to avoid unnecessary adjournment and time wasting. The court martial has Col. Usman Ahmad as president, leading the other 10 members of the panel as well as one awaiting panel member. It also has a Judge Advocate, Capt. S.A. Sadiq, to duly advise the panel as the proceedings progress.