Court does not have capability to try erring soldiers for allegedly freed Wadume - Femi Falana

Lagos based lawyer and activist, Femi Falana (SAN) says a General court martial does not have the capability to try the erring Soldiers who allegedly freed Wadume, suspected kidnapper.

Following the arrest of Wadume by men of the Police command in August, some soldiers led by one captain Tijjani Balarabe, attacked the bus while en route, killing three police officers and two civilians in the process, as Wadume was free.

But the case took another turn, when Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), whose office took over the case said the Soldiers had not been taken to a civil court because they were still being court-martialed, according to the rules governing the military.

Reacting to Malami’s claim on Sunday, Falana said the Soldiers were charged with terrorism and murder, and only the federal high court is capable by the law to handle such matters.

“With respect, the offence of terrorism allegedly committed by the indicted Soldiers are not provided for in the Armed Forces Act. To that extent, a general court-martial or special court-martial lacks the jurisdictional competence to try the offence of terrorism committed against police personnel and other members of the public by soldiers who are subject to service law,” he said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 32 of the terrorism prevention act 2011 as amended by the terrorism prevention amendment Act 2013 provides that The federal high court located in any part of Nigeria, regardless of the location where the offence is committed, shall have jurisdiction to (a) try offences under this act or any other related enactment; (b) hear and determine proceedings arising under this act.’

He further said that the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako ordered the chief of Army staff to bring the erring Soldiers to answer to the heinous charge of terrorism placed before them.

However, Malami, insisted they need to be court martialed first, as it is the rule of their profession, before they will have their day in court.

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