Nigerian Army restates commitment to respect rule of law, human rights

The Nigerian Army on Thursday restated its determination to continue to respect the rule of law and ensure that its personnel conduct themselves within the ambit of law at all times.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, gave the pledge at the launch of a book entitled: “Introduction to Military Law Practices and Procedure in Nigeria’’ in Abuja.

The book was written by retired Col. Bernard Okorie, who once served in the Legal Department in the Nigerian army.

Buratai said that there had been continuous awareness as regards human rights and international humanitarian law which no organisation or institution could afford to ignore.

He said: “No institution these days will ever skip the watchful eyes of some international non-governmental organisations and even international bodies like UN, Commonwealth, AU and the rest in their observance of human rights.’’

He said that the book could not have come at a better time than now that the military was engaged in counter insurgency and internal security operations in many parts of the country.

Buratai said those operations required the maintenance of high level of discipline as erring personnel were bound to face trial.

He commended the author, saying the book simplifies “summary and court martial trials which makes up the major aspects of military justice system in Nigeria”.

Buratai said: “It can serve as a practical guide to commanders at different levels who conduct summary trials and can equally guide members of the courts martial on a step by step basis on what is required of them.’’

Earlier, Brig.-Gen. Yusuf Shalangwa, the Director, Legal Services, Army, described military law as a special aspect of the law which principles must be appreciated by legal practitioners in general and military personnel in particular.

Shalangwa, however, said in spite of its importance, it had suffered neglect from academics and policymakers as it was hardly taught as a subject at under graduate level in Nigerian universities.

He, therefore, welcomed the publication of the book which he said was “well written by an accomplished retired military lawyer with practical experience on the subject’’.

The author, Okorie said that he was motivated to write the book because military law seemed to be ignored or little understood.

Okorie said: “Military law is different; it belongs to its own class like customary law and the rest.

“So, we feel burdened to show the light so that legal students and practitioners will know at least little about military law and what it is all about.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 640 page book focused on summary trial, court martial and other aspects of military justice system.

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