Mutiny: Trial of four Lt. Cols, 93 other soldiers begins

The authorities of the
Nigerian Army have
inaugurated a General
Court Martial to try 97
officers and men for
alleged offences in the
ongoing counter-
terrorism operation in the North-East.
Among the officers are four Lieutenant Colonels, a major,
four captains, five Lieutenants and one 2nd Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant Colonels are S.S. Tilawan, D.B. Dazang, I.C.
Ogunmanya, and S.U. Abubakar.
The Major is I.I. Sakaba while the captains are Z. Alhaji,
M . Hamadikko, M. B. Abdullahi, and S. Y. Musa.
The Lieutenants are T. Garba, F. Ogunleke, A . Abdullahi, I.
M. Okoro, and D. Wunuji. The 2nd Lieutenant is J. M. Uweh.
The other 82 who are rank and file are to face the GCM
alongside the 15 officers at the Nigeria Army Headquarters
Garrison, Abuja.
The GCM comprises Brig. Gen. Musa Yusuf (President), and
Colonels Rabe Abubakar, Mohammed Ibrahim, Umar
Mohammed, Godwin Ugwueze, Jonathan Gontor, B.R.
Abimiku and Col. M.M. Bunza.
Yusuf, who announced the members of the court, also
named Col. A.T. Ibrahim, Lt. Col. Victor Olatunji as waiting
members. Lt. Col. Ukpe Ukpe, an Assistant Director Legal
Services at the Army Headquarters Garrison was named the
Judge Advocate.
The Prosecuting Officers are Capt. J. A. Orumor, Capt.
Roseline Agwai, Capt. JE Nwosu, Capt. WF David, Capt V.L.
William, Lt. A.M. Sani, Lt. N. Okorie and LCPl Chukwu Prince-
Augustine.
The President of the Court said during the inauguration that
the officers and men would face offences such as mutiny,
assault, absence without leave, housebreaking, conduct
prejudicial to good orders and service discipline as well as
offences relating to service property.
He assured the accused who appeared in two batches at
the Army Headquarters Garrison Conference Room that the
court would ensure a strict adherence to the principle of fair
hearing and justice in its treatment of the cases before it.
Yusuf said that the court would ensure a holistic
examination of evidence brought before it to ensure that no
innocent person was convicted.
He said, “Let me further assure you that the GCM will base
its decisions and findings only on facts presented before it.
In order words, this court will not give room for or be
influenced by any extraneous matter which is not presented
before the court.
“In consonance with the desire of this GCM to do justice in
this case, we shall take cognisance of the postulation of
Chukwudifu Oputa, a former Justice of the Supreme Court,
that justice is a three-way traffic. That is: Justice for the
accused persons, justice for the victim, justice for the state.
“We intend to patiently and painstakingly listen to all
evidence that will be brought before this court to ensure that
no innocent person is convicted as it is better for nine guilty
persons to go free than for one innocent person to suffer.”
He appealed to the 15 defence counsel and their
prosecution counterparts to aid the plan of the GCM to
conclude the cases without delay.
He also urged the media to ensure a balanced and patriotic
reporting of the proceedings of the court in the interest of
national security and the accused.
Prior to the inauguration of the court, Shuaibu Isah, from
Credence Attorneys, had faulted the decision to appoint
Ukpe as the Judge Advocate .
The lawyer said it was wrong to ask a man who advises the
authorities that established the court martial to be a Judge
Advocate.
He argued that Ukpe had taken a stance on the case and
given a piece of advice that obviously aided the drafting of
the charges against the accused.
It was the prevalent view among the lawyers that the choice
of Ukpe as the Judge advocate was a negation to the
principle of fairness.
Although Ukpe and the Lead Prosecutor, Capt. Roseline
Agwai, argued that the Military Police did the investigation
and framing of the charges, the lawyers were of the view
that the matter must be addressed when the court starts
sitting on October 15, 2014, the next adjourned date for the
case.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana, whose law
firm is defending 68 of the accused soldiers told journalists
shortly after the inauguration that lawyers would consult
with their clients to take a decision on the issue of the
appointment of Ukpe as Judge Advocate.
Falana agreed with an observation by another Defence
Lawyer, Maj. Mike Kebonkwu (Retd.), that the accused were
taken to the trial court without being given the requisite
document.
Falana said, “We don’t have the charge sheet; we don’t have
the convening order; we don’t have the summary of
evidence of those who are coming to give evidence and the
law says that all accused persons are entitled to full
materials for their own defence and the court appreciated
that.
“Hence, an order has been made that all the necessary
documents be made available to all the accused persons so
that the trial can commence earnest on October 15.
“I have no cause to doubt the integrity of the members of
the court; I have taken part in a number of courts of this
nature. Even where we lost, we have had to go on appeal,
and we succeeded. So there is no cause for alarm. I think the
President of the court has assured the accused persons that
justice will be done.’’

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