*Over offences contrary to service discipline
By Kingsley Omonobi
ABUJA— Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, has ordered the military trial of two Major Generals of the Nigerian Army for what military sources said were offences contrary to service discipline.
The senior officers are Major General Ibrahim Sani, former Chief of Army Transformation and Innovation Centre and Major General Patrick Falola, former Commandant, 68 Military Hospital, Yaba, Lagos. He was also the Commander, Armed Forces Hospital, Kano.
Inaugurating the Special Military Court Martial at the Mogadishu Cantonment, yesterday, in Abuja, President of the court, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum, who is the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP) at NAF Headquarters, noted that the senior officers would be tried pursuant to a convening order emanating from the office of the Chief of Army Staff, adding that the powers of the court were derived from the Armed Forces Act.
AVM Gbum listed other members of the Special Court Martial as Air Vice Marshal Iya Abdullahi, who is the Chief of Training and Operations at NAF Headquarters; Rear Admiral Peter Agba, a former Chief of Naval Transformation, Surgeon Rear Admiral Edwin Elechukwu and the Judge Advocate, Colonel Saeed Musa.
Navy Captain Chris Anushiem is the Defence Counsel for Major-General Ibrahim Sani, while retired Wing Commander Enokela is the defence counsel for Major General Falola. Lieutenant Colonel Ukpe Ukpe is the prosecution witness for the Nigerian Army.
Speaking shortly after members of the special court were inaugurated, defence counsel, Navy Capt. Anushiem, drew the attention of the President of the court, AVM Gbum, to the fact that his two clients, Major General Sani and himself had not been served with copies of the charge sheet spelling out the offences committed, list of evidence or list of witnesses which could lead to an ambush when General Sani’s case begin.
He then requested the president of the court to direct the prosecution to provide the defence counsel of both accused the convening order, accompanied with the charge sheet, list of witnesses and list of evidence to enable them prepare adequately for their defence.
Air Vice Marshal Gbum, subsequently, directed the prosecution to provide the documents to the defence counsel not later than 24 hours before the arraignment of the senior officers.
The case was adjourned till Monday by 9 am at Mogadishu cantonment.
Vanguard gathered that this is the first time since the advent of democracy in 1999, that senior officers of the ranks of two-star Generals are facing court-martial in the Nigerian Military.
Previously, the military authorities preferred retiring compulsorily such officers, than putting them on trial.
During the tenure of the former Chief of Army staff, Lt. General KTJ Minimah, the highest ranked officer to face military court martials were Brigadiers Generals over issues of indiscipline, loss of command and alleged cowardice associated with Boko Haram terrorism.