Friday, May 8, 2015

Unlawful command influence alleged in Nigerian Army court-martial

Unlawful command influence has become an issue in the recently commenced court-martial of a Nigerian brigadier general and four other senior officers. According to this account:
The defence team, it was gathered, raised concerns that the military high command, led by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah, may interfere with the process. 
According to sources at the trial, the team told the court that Minimah had made it clear that he wanted the accused officers to be severely punished to serve as a lesson to others who may abandon their duty posts. 
The team cited an interview the army chief had with THISDAY newspaper two weeks ago, in which he said he set up a court-martial to ensure the officers were dismissed. 
"The soldier knows that if he runs away he will be dismissed. So everybody was prepared to stand and fight and die, because if you run back there is nothing. And for the fact that they stood and fought back for hours instead of running caught the Boko Haram by surprise ... and terrified them," Minimah had said in the THISDAY interview.
The team urged the court to disengage itself because it may be biased, and asked that a new court, made up of officers from the Air Force and Navy, be set up to hear the case. 
The defendant's objection was overruled by the court which said it cannot rely on media reports. 
It however promised that the process will be fair and that any officer not found guilty will be set free. The accused officers are yet to know what charges were filed against them.

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