By Kingsley Omonobi
The Defence headquarters on Thursday denied viral videos and other media reports alleging that various punitive measures taken against soldiers including dismissals from service in some cases over indiscipline were unjustified.
It condemned the actions of media outlets who provide their platforms for dismissed soldiersmake uncouth statements against the military saying, “It is unacceptable and condemnable especially when the AFN is countering acts of Terrorism, insurgency and banditry”.
A statement by Major Gen Banjamin Olufemi Sawyer, Director of Defence Information said, “The attention of the Defence Headquarters has been drawn to several social media video posted online as well as a live broadcast on a human right radio in which some allegedly aggrieved ex-military personnel, who were paraded, complained against various disciplinary actions taken against them by their respective Services.
“In the video and live broadcast programme, some of the ex-soldiers, most of who were dismissed from Service for various acts of indiscipline and misdemeanors, made efforts to rationalize or give excuses for the various infractions that led to their exit from service using most uncouth language.
“While the military respects everyone’s right to free expression and justice, it is important to know that the military profession has its peculiarity that borders on discipline, truth and respect.
“It also has a standard and effective procedure of seeking redress by any aggrieved personnel, even if dismissed. Notably, there exist the Harmonized Terms and Condition of Service (HTACOS) Soldiers/Ratings/Airmen (Revised) 2017 which was reviewed and signed into law on 26 January 2018 to harmonize the management of the 3 Services.
“Similarly, the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 has relevant Section dealing with Discipline and Administration of Justice.
“Section 147 – 202 of the Armed Forces Act which expressly deals with Post Trial Procedures as well as Appeals from Court Martial. What constitute status bar to appeals of cases is also well encapsulated in the Armed Forces Act.
“The extant laws are therefore available for persons appearing as Counsels to affected Service personnel to avail themselves.
“It is important to understand that, Nigeria operates a voluntary military service. Therefore, it is expected that whoever decides to serve in the noble profession would abide by its ethics and code of conduct.
“If any of its personnel thus run afoul of the law, there are procedures of ensuring the administration of military justice and discipline.
“Therefore, seeing dismissed military personnel disparaging the establishment by raising issues of perceived injustice years after their cases must have been disposed leaves much to be desired.
“It is advisable that whenever issues of Service discipline arises the media should give the respective Services benefit of doubt to address the issues raised rather than jump into conclusion of injustice and grant them airtime to reel out falsehood to justify their dismissal from Service.
“It is important to note that the military is structured with effective laws that guide discipline and administration of justice to prevent it from being governed through whims and caprices of commanders.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) thus view the action of these online and Human Right radio and Television stations as an act designed to portray the AFN in a bad light, despite all efforts the institution is putting in place to secure the nation.
“These actions are therefore unacceptable and condemnable especially when the AFN is countering act of Terrorism, insurgency and banditry.
“The AFN would therefore wish to advice such stations involve in acts aimed at portraying the AFN in bad light to desist henceforth.”