Army bars journalists at court martial of two generals
The Nigerian Army has given directives that journalists be disallowed from covering the arraignment of two major generals being tried by a Special Military Court Martial (SMCM) in Abuja.
Citing security reasons, the Deputy Director Army Public Relations (DDAPR) Colonel Aliyu Yusuf told The Guardian on phone that journalists would be invited when it is necessary.“For now due to some security reasons, we are not inviting journalists to cover the opening proceedings,” he said.
The Guardian recalls that on May 5, 2016, when the SMCM was inaugurated, the President Air Vice Marshal James Gbum said Major Generals Ibrahim Sani and Patrick Falola would be formally arraigned today Monday May 9, 2016, when the charges would read.
The Guardian reported that it is the first time since the inception of the country’s current democratic dispensation that such high-ranking military officers, two-star Generals, would face court martial trial.
Our correspondent learnt that the arraignment would take place today as earlier proposed, as the lead Prosecution Counsel Lieutenant Colonel Ukpe Ukpe was seen walking into the hall, but the cross examination may begin at a later date as the defence counsels were said not to have received the charge sheets and other necessary particulars needed to effectively defend their clients, early enough to prepare their defence.
Recall this was the bone of contention at the inauguration, when the counsel to Major General Falola argued that the prosecution should have submitted to them all the needed particulars: list of witnesses and all, before arraigning the officers.
Though there was no restriction into the Army Headquarters Garrison, Mogadishu Cantonment, entrance to the main hall, venue of the trial, was restricted.
“Journalists would be invited when the verdict would be given, for now, we would send out invitations immediately we are ready,” Yusuf told newsmen.