Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nigerian capital court-martial challenged for lack of independence and impartiality

Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
An action has been filed in Nigerian Federal High Court challenging the recent capital general court-martial on the ground that it was not independent and impartial. The Daily Post reports:
Dr. [Olisa] Agbakoba asserted that the independence and impartiality of the Court Martial was not secured in the trial of the soldiers. This is because all those who participated in the events related to the Court Martial are Army Officers. They are the investigators, prosecutors, President, Judge Advocate, Waiting Member and other members of the Court Martial.
The suit is filed under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 seeking four reliefs: (1) A declaration that the convening and composition of Army General Court Martial which convicted and sentenced 12 soldiers to death by firing squad for various offences on 16th September, 2014 is contrary to Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Nigeria, 1999; (2) A declaration that the decision of the Nigerian Army General Court Martial presided over by Brigadier-General C.C. Okonkwo delivered at the Army Headquarters in Abuja on 16th September, 2014 whereby 12 soldiers were sentenced to death by firing squad violated the right to fair hearing of the convicted soldiers; (3) A declaration that Section 133(3)(4) & (5) of the Armed Forces Act dealing with the convening authority of Court Martial is inconsistent with Section 36(1) of the Constitution and therefore null and void; and (4) An order setting aside the decision of the Court Martial made on 16th September, 2014.
Given the 12 capital sentences, it can be anticipated that no effort will be spared in this litigation. 

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