Author Topic: PROTEST : 28 SOLDIERS CHARGED WITH MUTINY  (Read 1054 times)

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PROTEST : 28 SOLDIERS CHARGED WITH MUTINY
« on: September 15, 2008, 02:00:28 PM »
The Nigerian Army has constituted a court-martial to try the 28 soldiers detained at the 232 Artillery Brigade in Akure, Ondo State for mutiny and insurbodination.

The soldiers, who returned to the country from Liberia where they participated in a peace mission, had on July 4, 2008 protested the part payment of allowances for the operation.

They had been arrested and detained before their counsel, led by Mr. Peters Adonu, went to an Akure High Court to challenge the delay in their trial.

They asked the court to compel the Army to charge them before a court that had jurisdiction over the matter.

Rather than obeying the court?s summon, the Army raised a six-member court-martial headed by one Brig-Gen. I.G. Bauka to also try the soldiers for unlawful assembly and conduct that was capable of putting service discipline in prejudice.

The court-martial, which was inaugurated on Thursday, sat on Friday and ordered tight security around the 232 Artillery Brigade barrack.

Adonu, who spoke with journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State on Sunday, also hinted that the President of the West African Bar Association, Mr. Femi Falana, might lead a team of lawyers to represent the soldiers at the court-martial.

?Mr. Falana has travelled to Liberia because of this issue on a fact-finding mission. He has also petitioned the United Nations over the development,? he said.

Adonu called on President Umaru Yar?Adua, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, and the entire leadership of the National Assembly to wade into the matter in the interest of peace.

The lawyer, who added that the court martial forced a counsel on the soldiers, said that the legal team that appeared before the court-martial on Friday walked out in frustration.

Adonu berated the Army for not releasing the soldiers even after they had been admitted to bail by the Akure High Court.

He claimed that the soldiers were expected to appear at the Akure High Court on Monday (today), the same day the court-martial also wanted them to appear before it.

Adonu said, ?The Army had to convene a court-martial informing the soldiers that they had to be in court on September 15 by 8 a.m. That is to frustrate the attendance of the soldiers in the Akure High Court so that the order of the court that granted them bail would not be perfected.

?We allowed the court-martial to be inaugurated because we couldn?t make an application. Unless the court is inaugurated there is no way they can hear our application. That was why we allowed them to be inaugurated. We are not engaging in any confrontation with the Army authorities.

?We informed the court-martial that there was a high court order that was pending and yet to be obeyed by the Nigerian Army. As it is, the Army is flouting the order of the high court by not granting these soldiers bail.

?If the Army cannot obey the order of a competent court of justice, then the Army on its own has committed an offence (contempt).

He frowned at the charges against the soldiers, saying they were aimed at getting rid of them for daring to expose the rot in the military.

Reacting to the development on Sunday, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 2 Mechanised Division, Ibadan, Col. Dapo Otiki, said the Army was a law-abiding institution that would not do anything contrary to the constitution of the country and the Military Act.

Otiki, who spoke on the telephone with our correspondent, justified the inauguration of the court-martial, saying that the Act of Parliament recognised it (military court).

He said, ?We are not aware of any court order. If there was, the Army is ready to obey such an order. The Army is a sub-set of the civil society. We don?t see ourselves disobeying the judiciary. We are a very law-abiding institution. We won?t disobey any proper order of the law court.

?On the charges against the soldiers, it is not the job of any lawyer to tell us how to discipline our soldiers. Investigations were carried out and a prima facie case was established against the soldiers. Their offences fall under mutiny.

?The court proceeding is open and the accused are allowed to engage any lawyer of their choice. They have the right to defend themselves. In any case, the court has commenced its sitting, so any comment now should not be pre-judicial to the proceedings of the court.?

About 800 soldiers, who participated in the peace operation in Liberia between September 2007 and April 2008, had staged a protest in Akure over the partial payment of their allowances.

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PROTEST : 28 SOLDIERS CHARGED WITH MUTINY
« on: September 15, 2008, 02:00:28 PM »

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