Law News
Military beefs up security around court martial venues

Military authorities have intensified security around officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army involved in the on-going General Court Martial in Jos, Abuja as well as other parts of the country.

Investigations revealed that military authorities decided to move the Court Martial from 1 Division, Kaduna, to the 3rd Armoured Division, Jos for security reasons.

A security source who pleaded for anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, confided in our correspondent.

He said the military high command decided to move all the cases emanating from the on-going operation in the North East to Jos and Abuja, because of the need for a more effective security arrangement for those under interrogation and those conducting the trial.

The source said members of the Boko Haram Islamic Sect had written a letter to the headquarters of 1 Division, Kaduna, where the trial was initially supposed to take place that they would attack the trial venue for reasons yet to be made clear.

The sect members were also said to have written a similar letter to the headquarters of the Division 3 of the Nigerian Army, in Jos.

Investigations revealed that the situation made Army authorities to tighten security around the venues of the court martial and the detention centres to ensure the safety of those under trial and those responsible for conducting the trials.

It was gathered that it became necessary to move the court martial from Kaduna to Jos to try offences committed in relation with the on-going operation because of the distance between the detention centre and the venue of the court.

It was gathered that unlike the Mogadishu Cantonment where the officers’ mess is located within, the Officers Mess in Kaduna is located on Kanta Road, which is some distance from the 1 Division Headquarters venue of the trial.

However, another security source explained that the movement of the Court Martial from Kaduna to Jos was not because of the letter written by the Boko Haram to the Army authorities.

It was argued that even if the military had taken a decision to carry out the court martial in Maiduguri, which is close to the centre of the on-going operation, a strong security arrangement would have been put in place to secure the venue of the trial, and those involved in the trial.

The source said, “The military authorities have tightened security around the detainees facing trial because of a letter by the Boko Haram members who threatened to attack the trial venues.

“It would be right to say that the decision to move the trial venue from Kaduna to Jos was for security and convenience.

“You know that officers’ mess where they were being detained is in Kanta Road and it is not within the 1 Division Headquarters at Kawo, Kaduna.

“I believe, they considered the distance between the detention centre and the venue of the trial and also noted the fact that a bomb attack had taken place along that route in the past.

“But the insurgents also wrote to the Army authorities in Jos and the Army authorities have put in place elaborate security arrangement.

“That might inform the decision to restrict access in a way to the trial venue.”

But another source explained that security provision remained a major aspect in any General Court Martial.

The source said that it was in line with the tradition of the military to place emphasis on the safety of those whose freedom had been restricted and those playing various roles in the ongoing trial.

“You should know that the letter by the Boko Haram was written long ago, it is not new. Those guys are always writing with the intent to cause panic.

“But what I will tell you is that those being tried are human beings; those being kept in one place for the trial are human beings; they have their sympathisers, they have their brother so it is compulsory to secure the place.

“That is to tell you that even without any Boko Haram letter, the military would still have provided security.

Meanwhile, investigation revealed that another court martial had opened at the Second Division of the Nigerian Army Army, Ibadan.

The General Court Martial was said to have been inaugurated two week ago to try various acts of misdemeanours in the Army.

When our correspondent contacted the Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen Chris Olukolade, he said that court Martial are traditionally expected to take place at the level of divisions to try emergent offices in the military.

“It is normal for court martial to take place at the level of the Division, to try offences in accordance with military laws,” he said

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