A court martial trial is currently underway at the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, involving 25 soldiers and one officer facing charges for various offenses. The individuals facing the trial are selected from different formations within the division, which covers the entire South East States and Cross River.
Major-General Hassan Dada, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 82 Division, Nigerian Army, officially inaugurated the court martial proceedings in Enugu on Tuesday.
He emphasized that this process is being conducted in accordance with the Nigerian Armed Forces Act. The court martial serves as a means for the military to instill discipline among its personnel.
Major-General Dada noted that, like in civilian courts, the accused individuals, who are Nigerian Army personnel facing various charges, deserve a fair hearing, and thus, they cannot be tried summarily without a duly constituted court martial.
He emphasized that the accused are considered innocent until proven otherwise, following the completion of the court martial proceedings, during which they will have the opportunity to defend themselves and receive a fair hearing.
Major-General Dada pointed out that if the accused are found not guilty, they will be discharged and acquitted of the alleged crimes. However, if they are found guilty, they will be penalized in accordance with the laws related to the offenses they have committed.
He assured that the court martial would adhere to the principles of natural justice and fair hearing, as outlined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, and other relevant laws and procedures related to the trial.
Major-General Dada reiterated the court’s independence from external influences and pledged that the evidence and allegations against the accused would be thoroughly verified and authenticated to ensure that innocent parties are not victimized.
He also urged the defense counsel for the accused to avoid unnecessary adjournment and time wastage to expedite the proceedings.
The court martial is presided over by Colonel Usman Ahmad, who leads a panel of 10 other members, along with one awaiting panel member. The proceedings also feature a Judge Advocate, Captain S.A. Sadiq, to provide guidance and advice to the panel throughout the trial.