The Nigeria Army 8 Division, in Sokoto State Friday inaugurated a General Court Martial (GCM) and a Special Court Martial (SCM) for the trail of 68 accused officers and soldiers from the division.
Inaugurating the Court, Maj-Gen. Godwin Mutkut, the General Officer Commanding 8 Division, said the action was to sustain the administration of justice for enhanced discipline as a bedrock of military professionalism.
According to him, three different General Court Martials were convened by his predecessor to address offences committed by troops in order to serve justice to them.
“Some of these accused have been tried awaiting confirmation while others are awaiting trial.
“In this light, the inauguration of these courts today become crucial. Courts martial, like all courts, are established to provide justice.
“This is justice not only to the victim of an alleged crime, but justice also to the state and to the accused person standing trial,“ he said.
Mutkut added that the court was set up to ensure the truth prevails, while urging the members to evaluate all evidence before it in line with the principles of fairness and to decide each case on its merit.
“Please remember that it is better for 99 guilty persons to go free than for one innocent person to be unjustly convicted.
“You are to also be mindful of the fact that the accused persons before you remain service personnel and our brothers in arms throughout their trials.
“They should therefore be treated with the same level of decorum in the courtroom as their counterparts out there in the field would be treated,“ he added.
Mutkut further assured the accused persons that the court woild be guided throughout the trial by the principles of natural justice and fair hearing.
“This is as encapsulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and other extant laws and procedures related to your trial,“ he said.
The GOC appealed to both the prosecuting and defence counsels to avoid seeking for unnecessary adjournment capable of delaying the trial, saying, “ justice delayed is justice denied.
“We are all also aware that justice rushed is justice crushed. Hence, I enjoin both parties to work hand in hand to ensure that true justice is attained,” Mutkut said.