The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 2 Division Nigerian Army, Odogbo Ibadan, Fidelis O Azinta, a Major General, on Monday, inaugurated a General Court Martial (GCM) to try no fewer than nine erring personnel of the division.
Mr Azinta made this known via a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the deputy director, army public relations, Hassan Ifijeh Mohammed, a colonel.
The inauguration of the GCM according to the GOC, was in line with the importance of discipline to the success of any organization, particularly, the military, in peace or in war.
Mr Azinta, while addressing members of the panel, at the Tiger Officers’ Mess, Agodi, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, enjoined members of the GCM to base the Court Martial on due process and in conformity with extant civil and military laws especially the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Armed Forces Act.
He said, “In view of this, members of the court are expected to painstakingly ensure that every step or action taken in the trial process is in conformity with the provisions of the laws.
He emphasized that military justice is not an instrument of discipline, rather it is used to promote discipline.
Mr Azinta noted that “The president and members of this GCM have been carefully appointed considering their ranks, seniority, general service knowledge and wealth of experience to ensure fair trial and enhance the course of justice.
“They are men of integrity and character, therefore I have no doubt in their ability to dispense justice fairly”.
He also noted that justice, as argued by late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, is three-way: justice for the accused, justice for the victim and justice for the state.
Mr Azinta added that, “It is equally important to recall that both Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 122 of the Armed Forces Act 2004, emphasize that expeditious and speedy trial provides basis for trial.
“This is one of the advantages of a GCM. This advantage will be lost if we allow delays on unnecessary technicalities to characterize the day to day proceedings of the court”.
He however assured all the accused persons seated at GCM that the court will be fair and just.
He also reminded the president and members of the GCM as well as the prosecution and defence counsel that as Ministers in the temple of justice, “you must all be seen to advance the course of justice in all your actions and dealings”.
Mr Azinta urged all to live above board, bearing in mind that doing otherwise will have implications on the dispensation of justice in the army.
He concluded that “it is better to set ten criminals free than to convict one innocent person”.
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