A rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to ensure that the soldiers indicted for the brutal murder of three policemen who arrested a kidnap kingpin, Bala Hamisu (alias Wadume) were made to face trial in line with a court order.
Falana said the order made by Justice Binta Nyako of a Federal High Court in Abuja mandating the Chief of Army Staff to produce the soldiers to answer to the heinous charge of terrorism and allied offences is apt and must be obeyed.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana disagreed with the AGF that the indicted soldiers could be tried by a court-martial. He said the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act.
The police had earlier charged the indicted soldiers to court alongside Wadume and others. However, the names of the indicted soldiers were later removed from the charge by the AGF after his office took over the trial of the suspects.
Justifying his action, the AGF disclosed that there is a need to allow for the consummation of established process. He said he withdrew the charges against the soldiers to allow the army to court-martial them and conclude its internal process.
“They are military personnel. First, they are to go through the in-house processes. There are two options – either to charge them before the court-martial which is a special court established by law for the trial of soldiers or in the alternative for the military after consummation of the in-house processes should consider handing them over for trial,” the AGF said.
However, while disagreeing with the AGF’s assertion, Falana argued that a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by the indicted soldiers who are subject to service law.