After three postponements, the Nigerian Army Monday commenced the court Martial of two generals and 20 other officers who allegedly deserted their duties in the ongoing war against extremist sect, Boko Haram.
The court martial, which was held at the Officers Mess, 9th Brigade Headquarters, Ikeja Cantonment, was done amid tight security.
Reporters who arrived the venue upon getting information about the trial were not allowed anywhere close to the area as personnel of the Operation MESA were stationed from the entrance.
The trial commenced Monday morning and as at the time of filing this report (4:30pm), proceedings were still ongoing.
The officers include two Brigadier-Generals, J.O. Komolafe and Ramsome-Kuti; 14 Colonels- A. Laguda, V. Ebhaleme, V.O. Ita, 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; as well as a Second Lieutenant, S.O. Olowa.
They are the third batch of Army personnel who have been fingered for alleged treasonable offences (mutiny), with the other two batches condemned to death by firing squad by an Abuja Court Martial.
It was learnt that Femi Falana (SAN), Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) and another senior lawyer were among the defence team for the officers.
Falana who left in the morning after realising his client Brigadier-Generals Ramsome-Kuti and Komolafe were not brought before the panel Monday, confirmed that the court Martial has commenced.
He said that the military authority had assured him that they would inform him when his client’s case would come up.
Asked to comment on the charges against the officers, Falana declined on the grounds that his client’s trial has not commenced.
He said: “The military authority has told the world that they have just taken delivery of military equipment, I feel there is no need to put them on trial that is why we congratulated them in the successes so far recorded.
“This confirmed that as at the time they were arrested there was no weapon to fight, but now that they have weapons, they should release the boys to go and join others to fight.”
This is the first time senior army officer would be put on trial for such offences as mutiny in the northeastern war against terrorists.
Army had in December condemned 54 soldiers after finding them guilty on conspiracy to commit mutiny and mutiny for disobeying direct order from superior officers to go to the battle front.
The soldiers however said they only asked for support equipment before embarking on the operation.
Their conviction is currently on appeal by their counsel Femi Falana