Sunday, August 2, 2015

Femi Falana on the Nigerian court-martial situation

Femi Falana, SAN
The Nigerian government's review of past and pending courts-martial is stirring up a mare's nest of issues. From this article posted today on the Premium Times:
Mr. [Femi] Falana, who is the attorney to some of the condemned and imprisoned soldiers, in a statement on Sunday, said the comment by Mr. [Alex] Badeh, now retired, has vindicated the soldiers. He said the ongoing courts-martial should be discontinued forthwith and the soldiers on trial discharged. 
“In the light of the foregoing, we call on the military authorities to disband the two courts-martial currently sitting in Lagos and Abuja and discharge the officers and soldiers on trial. Since those who set up the military courts have admitted that they led a military which was neither equipped nor motivated to confront the well equipped enemy there is no longer any legal or moral basis for the trials,” he said. 
Mr. Falana argued that the courts-martial were red herring by the military to divert attention from the inadequacies of the military. He said the military clearly confirmed the soldiers complaint by removal of the General Officer Commanding the 7th Infantry Division of the Nigerian Army based in Maiduguri, Borno State at the time. 
He said the refusal of the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah, to confirm the verdict of the courts-martial, which would have paved the way for it to be appealed at the Court of Appeal, was a violation of the constitution and the Armed Forces Act. 
“In view of the injustice which characterised the exercise we had pleaded with the authorities to review the exercise and pointed out that the decision to dismiss 1000 young men who had been trained to handle weapons was a threat to national security. 
“Our appeal fell on deaf ears. As the action could not be justified under the Armed Forces Act we have had to approach the National Industrial Court for redress on behalf of hundreds of dismissed soldiers. The cases are pending in the court.” 
Prosecute Badeh for Mutiny 
Mr Falana said in the light of his comment, the ex-defence chief, should be charged with mutiny for deceiving his troops and the nation as well as for demobilising troops under the false claim that the Federal Government had reached a truce with Boko Haram.

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