Army bars journalists from trial of General, 22 others
THE Nigerian Army Monday commenced the trial of 22 officers, including a Brigadier-General after several postponements.
Journalists were, however, barred from covering the trial, which took place amidst tight security at the 9 Brigade Officers Mess, Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos.
The trial had been postponed thrice since the army authority signified its intention to put the officers on trial in Lagos.
It was gathered that the court martial of the 22 army officers was earlier scheduled to begin on Friday, January 16, 2015 but was postponed.
The 22 soldiers were arrested and accused of negligence and cowardice in the ongoing war with Boko Haram insurgents.
Counsel to one of the officers on trial, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) told newsmen on telephone in Lagos that he was not at the trial venue since the case involving his client, one General Komolafe, was not going to be heard Monday.
He said that the military authority had assured him that they would inform him when his client’s case was going to come up.
Falana also admitted representing Brigadier General Ransome Kuti, although he declined commenting on the matter, since his client’s case had not come up.
He said: “The military authority has told the world that they have just taken delivery of military equipment. I feel there is no need to put them on trial. That is why we congratulated them in the successes so far recorded in the fight against insurgency.
“This confirms that as at the time they were arrested, there was no weapon to fight with. But now that they have weapons, they should release the boys to go and join others to fight.”
The 22 officers are being prosecuted for allegedly refusing to partake in the on-going war against Boko Haram insurgents in the North East part of the country.
The officers include Brigadier-General J.O Komolafe; 14 Colonels – A. Laguda, V. Ebhaleme, V.O. Ita, and I.B. Maina, I. A Aboi, I.M Kabir, M.H. Abubakar, A. A. Egbejule, N. N. Orok, C. A. Magaji, A.O. Agwu, A.J.S. Gulani, O.O. Obolo and A.M. Adetuyi; one Major – M.M. Idris; five Captains – M. Adamu, O. A. Adenaike, M. Gidado, M.M. Clark and S. Raymond and one Second Lieutenant – S.O. Olowa.
This is the first time senior army officers have been put on trial for offences related to the military’s campaign in the North East.
It would be recalled that in December 2014, about 54 soldiers were sentenced to death for conspiracy to commit mutiny.
The Army authority said the soldiers disobeyed a direct order from their superior officers to take part in an operation.
The soldiers, however, said they only asked for support equipment before embarking on the operation.
Spokesman of the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Anka told The Guardian that the trial was simply a routine in the military.
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