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579 soldiers facing military court martial, says Army

By Karls Tsokar, Abuja
21 May 2015   |   2:28 am
ABOUT 579 officers and men of the Nigerian Army are facing court martial for various offences.
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ABOUT 579 officers and men of the Nigerian Army are facing court martial for various offences.

The Acting Director of the Department of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Colonel Sani Usman, who disclosed this at the monthly press briefing yesterday, in Abuja, also said the trials are taking place in two locations: One, “at the Army Headquarters (AHQ) Garrison where there are 473 officers, and ranks and also at 81 Division where 106 are docked.

He stressed that having the trials in two locations was to ensure quick dispensation of justice, discipline and professionalism.

The Army spokesman also said the soldiers already sentenced would be allowed to appeal but not before the Military Council that is vested with the powers to confirm the sentence, did so.

Denying allegations that the soldiers on trial are treated inhumanely, Usman said: “Soldiers in detention have access to facilities, just bare necessities of life, clothing, feeding and shelter. It is not correct that they are starved.”

Usman said in a bid to beef up the numerical strength of troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents, 481 more personnel and one additional battalion have been drafted to the Northeast, stressing that it is the avowed goal of the Nigerian Army to intensify the search for the Chibok girls by combing all known hideouts and bunkers of the terrorists.

He said the Army welcomed the advice offered by the Governor of Borno State, Ibrahim Shettima that the search for the missing Chibok girls should be extended outside the box.

“It is a welcome suggestion and it has been taken with all sense of responsibility and seriousness it deserves. We welcome information from all, not only in search of the Chibok girls but for enhanced security in the country,” he said.

‘‘Within the last month, 481 personnel of the Armed Special Forces which comprise the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police have completed their training and inducted into the theatre of operations. Recent achievements recorded in the Northeast can be attributed to the exploits of this elite force.”

While emphasising that the huge investment in the Armed Forces is the reason for the successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram in recent times, Usman said: “151Battalion has been inducted into the war zone at the completion of the requisite training during the period, while two battalions, 152 and 153, are currently undergoing training and will be inducted on completion.

“Additionally, Army Headquarters Task Force Group is currently in the last phase of their training and Army Amoured School has intensified training of tank crew personnel.

“Personnel training in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in the United Kingdom and United States of America is ongoing.”

While also hinting that 2,338 members of the 72 Regular Recruits Intake at Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria will graduate on Friday to boost the strength of the Army, Usman noted that a one-stop documentation procedure has been devised to ease the problems of retiring army officers, following the review of the Nigerian Army Administrative Policies and Procedures, 10 years after it was last reviewed.

As a result, he said it will only take “a 90-day time line of documenting and processing retiring officers’ benefits.”

He said 20 next-of-kins received cheques for payment of life insurance entitlements while 235 in such category also benefitted from special assistance by the office of the National Security Adviser.