Irabor backs review of military laws, unveils book in Abuja

Irabor backs review of military laws, unveils book in Abuja


By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, on Thursday expressed support for calls to review the Armed Forces Act to make it more professional and efficient.

Irabor expressed his support, at the unveiling of a book titled, “Fundamental of Military Law and Practice” authored by a retired military officer and lawyer, Maj. Mike Kebonkwu, on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the armed forces was a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adding that its conduct and activities were anchored on laws.

According to him, military practices, techniques and procedures are formulated from various laws.

“The principal one being the Nigerian constitution and of course, other legal provisions including the international humanitarian law, and international human rights law,” he said.

The defence chief said the book was essential because it would help the military X-ray some of its legal documents and activities within the armed forces.

He said the armed forces was anchored on discipline, adding that all actions or inactions of its personnel were from the point of view that there could not be an effective military without discipline which the law codified.

“I am glad that we are right on course and being a professional armed forces.

“On the need for review, there is no document that is foolproof and we live in a dynamic society, and so there are newer practices and behaviours right now which the drafters of the Armed Forces Act did not contemplate.

“This, we will eventually review to be able to make us more professional, and more efficient as an armed forces,” he said.

Irabor said the book would help the Armed Forces to be able to have effective military justice administration, adding that it would lead the military into some of the reasoning as to how justice administration had been applied in the armed forces.

He said there was also need for non-military lawyers to understand the basis of military laws which was anchored more on discipline to able to help the military maintain its standard.

He urged members of the armed forces to continue to improve on themselves beyond the rudimentary training courses and leverage on the various opportunities that the armed forces provided for them.

Former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, congratulated the author for the effort towards contributing to the development of military legal system.

Dambazau said the armed forces legal system was developing with remarkable improvement, noting that the author had proven to be efficient in the fields of law.

“So, I want to continue to encourage those who are interested in writing books, or writing articles, journals, such as what has been written, so that other people can learn from their knowledge and experience,” he said.

The author of the book, retired Maj. Kebonkwu, said the book raised a number of issues that needed to be reviewed in the Nigerian military laws.

Kebonkwu said there was need to review the existing military laws so as to do away with the colonial legal system that were still present in the nation’s military legal system.

He said the issue of summary dismissal needed to be reviewed to give any erring personnel opportunity for fair hearing and defend themselves.

According to him, there are two different forms of trial in the military, summary trial and court martial, which are two different things and two different procedures applied.

“For the summary trial, you do not require the presence of a lawyer most of the times. Also, it does not require that thorough detailed investigation by the military police which should be saddled with the responsibility of investigation.

“So, the armed forces empowers the commanding officer to dismiss a soldier summarily and of course, you see when you have that kind of situation, the person is not adequately represented by counsel of his choice as provided by the constitution.

“It is only fair that the person should be given the chance to have a counsel of his choice to defend him,” he said. 

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