A retired Major, Dr. B.M. Magaji, has canvassed for justice in the military trial, adding that military pronouncements should conform to international standards andnot be ruledby sentiments or emotions.
Magaji,a guest of Kwara State University’s Institute of Advanced Military Studies (IAMS), made the call while presenting a paper,entitled “Constitutional Guarantees to Fair Trial: Scope and Limitations of the Armed Forces act in the Military Trials,” at the University, on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.
The rtd. Majorwho is of the Department of Public and Comparative Law, Kampala International, University, Uganda, enlightened that every military personnel has a right to fair hearing just like civilians,no matter what the offence is.
According to him, it is very crucial that injustice is ruled out in Nigerian Armed Forces, comprising Army, Navy and Airforce, as injustice will translate to low morale and low morale can affect effective discharge of duties.
Disapproving the alleged display of cowardice and compromised security laws in recent trials of officers and men in the Armed Forces, he noted that the need to have fair trials in their justice system is imperative if their fighting spirit is to be maintained as fighting force.
``The security forces, particularly the Armed Forces are an important pillar in the maintenance of peace and security.’’
``Security can only be guaranteed when those in charge have the feeling that they are treated fairly in their laws in line with the laws of the land’’, he added.
He further explained that all persons, under the constitution are to be treated equally regardless of their station in life or position in the society; whether military or civilian, poor or rich, powerful or inconsequential.
``In the determination of his civil rights and obligations including any question or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such a manner as to secure it independence and impartiality.’’
The paper evaluated the Armed Forces Act 1993 vis-à-vis fair trial as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Armed Forces Act on one part and the practical reality on the other.
It, however, recommended that right to fair hearing within a reasonable time should be given by a court or tribunal, presumption of innocence to be given to accused persons and legal and human rights education should be included in the curricular of military institutions and other institutions with quasi mandate.
The Director of the host Institute, Dr. AdemolaAraoye, in his remarks, said the Institute would continue to advocate and ensure that things were done in conformity with international standards in the military.
Araoye noted that IAMS would be involved in a lot of research works and sensitisations to this effect.