On Wednesday, the 7 Division of Nigerian Army court-martialed 20 soldiers, including four officers, for various offences allegedly committed within the operational area of its Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East sub-region of the country.
Inaugurating a seven-member General Court Martial (GCM) at the Maiduguri Media Centre, the Acting General Officer Commanding of the Division, Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu, said that the court-martialing of the men was to achieve timely and quick dispensation of justice within the framework of the statute books.
"It is when there is justice that discipline can be achieved, also discipline is the bedrock of the military profession," he noted.
Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu advised that it was important for the prosecution and the accused, including their defence, to be mindful of that fact, calling on them to strive to shun any antics that could result in frivolous adjournments and delays in the trial process.
He also urged the President of the panel, Brig-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi and the six other members of the court to dispense the important assignment before them in accordance with the extant laws and ensure that their opinions on all the cases brought before them are not beclouded with bias, external pressure or by extraneous factors, SaharaReporters reports.
He said that the outcome of the court martial must be based on careful appreciation of all of the facts of each case and the evidence placed before the court.
To the accused, Brig-Gen. Victor Ezugwu said: "Be assured that you are all presumed innocent until this honourable court finds otherwise. Your rights to fair hearing and other fundamental human rights would be adhered to throughout this trial."
He said that the Nigerian Army will not condone violation of the laws of armed conflict in the dischargeof constitutional responsibilities, and noted that the accused persons could subsequently appeal verdictspassed by the GCM to the Appeal and Supreme Courts.