Law News
Mutiny: Agbakoba seeks amendment of Armed Forces Act

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, has written to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, advocating an amendment of the Armed Forces Act in relation to the setting up of a court martial.

Agbakoba, who faulted the manner in which court martial is composed, asked that Minimah approach the National Assembly to request an amendment of the Armed Forces Act to suit Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution.

Section 36 of the Constitution borders on the right to fair hearing.

Agbakoba’s letter was predicated on the death sentence passed by a nine-man court martial on 12 soldiers pronounced guilty of mutiny.

The Senior Advocate, in his letter, argued that a situation where the Commander of the Army appoints the members of the court martial had occasioned a breach of right to fair hearing.

He admitted that mutiny was a serious offence in the military, he believed the errant soldiers, as Nigerians, deserved the right to fair hearing which could not be guaranteed in a situation where ‘the Army was the investigator, the prosecutor and the  judge.

Agbakoba’s letter titled ‘Unconstitutional Decision of the Court Martial in Relation to the Mutiny of Soldiers against General Officer Commanding 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, read in part, “I write to draw  attention to the unconstitutional decision of the court martial in which 12 soldiers were sentenced to death. This is without prejudice to the offence alleged to have been committed.

“We fully understand that military discipline is based on obedience to superior orders and that mutiny is a serious offence, yet the Nigerian Constitution guarantees a right to fair hearing to every Nigerian.

“The manner, procedure and process by which these condemned soldiers were sentenced to death is contrary to the Nigerian Constitution. The reason is because the Army was investigator, prosecutor and judge all rolled into one. This is contrary to the rules of natural justice as consecrated at Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution.”

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