Falana opposes fresh postponement of 22 top army officers’ trial
THE court martial of 22 top army officers including a Brigadier-General, which was earlier scheduled to commence yesterday at the 9 Brigade Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Ikeja in Lagos, has now been postponed till the end of the month.
But Femi Falana, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, who are the defence lawyer of the 22-army officers, kicked against the shift in date and urged military authorities to release the detained officers immediately.
Falana urged the authorities to grant them bail pending when the military is ready to prosecute them.
According to him, “There is no point detaining the suspects when the charges against the suspects is not yet ready. They should be released since the military is not yet prepared to try them.
Asked whether the suspects would not abscond if they were freed, the Lawyer said, “They won’t abscond or run away because they want to defend themselves and clear their names.”
It would be recalled that the court Martial of the 22 Army Officers was earlier scheduled to begin on Friday, January 16, 2915 but was postponed.
Sources at the 9 Brigade, Ikeja, told newsmen yesterday that the case was reassigned to commence on Monday, January 19, 2015.
Yesterday’s postponement would be third in a roll since the army authority signified its intension to hold the trial in Lagos,
The 22 officers are being prosecuted for alleged offences committed during the on-going war against Boko Haram insurgents in the North East of the country.
The officers include a Brigadier-General – J.O Komolafe; 14 Colonels – A. Laguda, V. Ebhaleme, V.O. Ita, and I.B. Maina, I. A Aboi, I.M Kabir, M.H. Abubakar, A. A. Egbejule, N. N. Orok, C. A. Magaji, A.O. Agwu, A.J.S. Gulani, O.O. Obolo and A.M. Adetuyi; one Major – M.M Idris; five Captains – M Adamu, O. A. Adenaike, M. Gidado, M.M. Clark and S. Raymond and one Second Lieutenant – S.O Olowa.
This is the first time senior army officers would be put on trial for offences related to the military’s campaign in the North East.
Those that have being put on trial were mostly non-commissioned personnel, many of whom were either sacked or sentenced to death.
It would be recalled that in December 2014, about 54 soldiers were sentenced to death for conspiracy to commit mutiny and mutiny.
The Army authority said the soldiers disobeyed a direct order from their superior officers to take part in an operation. The soldiers however, said they only asked for support equipment before embarking on the operation.