• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Prominent lawyer reacts to alleged statement by Chief of Defence Staff

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Foremost legal practitioner and frontline rights advocate, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, has reacted to a statement credited to the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, where he allegedly endorsed summary trials and the execution of soldiers engaged in desertion right on the ‘field’.

Reacting to this statement, which he described as repugnant to good conscience, equity and justice, Agbakoba noted that the era of military rule was over and thus the military remained subordinate to the Constitution, which has supremacy over all persons and authority.

He stated: “I read a statement attributed to you in the newspapers endorsing summary trials and execution in relation to soldiers and officers engaged in desertion and other military offences. Specifically, you were quoted to have said: “In fact, may be you will now push us to go and start doing field court martial in the bush. We try them, in five minutes we would have finished the trial, kill them, bury them and we go on with the fight.

“You reportedly made the above statement in reaction to comments by Nigerians against the decision of Army General Court Martial that sentenced 12 soldiers to death by firing squad for alleged mutiny and other military offences.”

He continued: “I hope that the statement does not represent what you said. I assume you have been misquoted. In the unfortunate event that the statement is true, I am shocked that this has come from Nigeria’s most senior sitting, serving military officer. With respect, the statement is repugnant to good conscience, equity and justice.”

Writing without prejudice to the framework of Court Martials, the Senior Advocate maintained that the military was subordinate to the Constitution and that the trial of the soldiers had been conducted contrary to fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution.

“This is the missed point in your comments,” he stated. “I have filed an action in Court against the Court Martial decision. Let us hope that we will all abide by the outcome of the case.”

Badeh had reportedly made the statement credited to him at a three-day retreat in Abuja, on Security/Media Relations in Crisis Management organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser in collaboration with Trims Communications Nigeria Limited, when he spoke about the reaction of the public against the death sentence on 12 soldiers convicted for mutiny. According to him, this interference might compel the military leadership to try such offenders in the bush and give them summary execution if found guilty.