The Nigerian Army on Monday began the court-martial of 14 soldiers serving in Special Task Forces in Maiduguri, Jos and Bauchi for alleged misconduct.
The accused include two Colonels, a Master Warrant Officer, seven Lance Corporals and four Privates.
The GOC, 3 Armoured Division, Jack Nwaogbo, while inaugurating the court at the 3 Armoured Division in Jos, said the trial is to determine the culpability of the accused in the charges brought against them.
“Court-martial is one of the procedures in the Armed forces to right some of the perceived wrongdoings by either officers or soldiers who may have erred or allegedly erred in the course of performing their duties,” he said.
“This court-martial is meant to try alleged offences committed by officers and soldiers serving in 3 Armoured Division, the Special Task Forces in Plateau and Bauchi, and the Joint Special Task Force in Maiduguri.”
Mr. Nwaogbo explained that the 3 Division is the only location in the North authorised to set up such court to try erring personnel.
The GOC urged members of the public to always report cases of abuses and misconduct by military personnel. He said that such reports would help the authorities enforce discipline and the rights of victims.
“For now, all of them (accused) are presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the court; it is not my duty to pronounce any one of them guilty for now,” the GOC said.
“That is why in line with my responsibility as the GOC, and also in line with the Armed Forces Act CAP A-20 laws of the federation of Nigeria, I have set up this court to look into these cases and to adjudicate as appropriate.”
Mr. Nwaogbo urged the defence counsels to look into the charges proffered against their clients to ensure that justice is done. He also encouraged the prosecuting counsels to cooperate with the court.
Stephen Andow, General Staff Officer, 3 Division, explained that the offences leveled against the accused are beyond the powers of their various commanders.
The President of the six-man Court, Adamoh Salihu, pledged to be fair and just in the discharge of their duties.
The details of the charges were not given.
One of the defence counsels, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however said the accused are facing a two-count charge of negligence in the performance of military duties and miscellaneous offences relating to service property.
The offences are punishable under sections 62 (b) and 58 of the Armed Forces Act CAP A-20.