Human rights lawyer, Tope Akinyode, has said he would institute a legal process to challenge the arrest of Lance Corporal Martins, a soldier in the Nigerian Army, who was arrested on the orders of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The soldier made a video condemning security chiefs in Nigeria especially Buratai and Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, over the incessant killings of citizens by Boko Haram and other armed groups in the Northern part of the country.
He said the security chiefs had failed in their duty to protect the country.
Irked by the video, Buratai ordered that the soldier be arrested and moved to Abuja from Sokoto.
Condemning the arrest of the soldier, Akinyode said the military was not permitted by law and are acting illegally by arresting the soldier.
He therefore, described the junta-style arrest of the soldier as unjustifiable and unconstitutional.
He added that it was unfortunate that rather than take Martins’ message in good faith and buckle down, the millitary was distracting itself from its very important duty of quashing Boko Haram.
He stated that Section 122 (6) of the Armed Forces forbids the military to perpetually detain an officer unless his release would pose a threat to national security.
The lawyer said, “It is our considered view that the continued detention of Lance Corporal Martins and his purported transfer to Abuja is unjustifiable, illegal, wrongful and unconstitutional.
“The millitary is not permitted to confine Lance Corporal Martins in custody in the manner in which it is doing.
“For the records, the arrest of millitary officers is governed by the Armed Forces Act, Chapter A20, LFN 2004.
“Although by virtue of Section 121 of the Armed Forces Act, the military is granted restrictive powers to arrest its personnel, Section 122(6) of the Armed Forces Act has provided that an arrested officer is entitled to immediate release unless his release threatens national security.
“Section 122(6) of the Armed Forces Act states that: (6) A person arrested under this Act by virtue of this section shall as soon as is practicable be released from custody by the person making the arrest unless he believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary in the interest of public order or the Armed Forces and the need to prevent deliberate undermining of service discipline that the person be retained in custody having regard to all the circumstances, including—(a) the seriousness of the allegation or accusation, for example, murder or treason; (b) the need to establish the identity of the person under arrest;
(c) the need to secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the allegation or accusation;
(d) the need to prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or any other offence;
(e) the necessity to ensure the safety of the person, other persons or property;
( f ) the need to forestall the actual or likelihood of interference with investigation, for example, threatening, intimidating, eliminating or subornation of witnesses;
(g) the need to prevent escape of the accused; and
(h) the fact that the accused has not surrendered but has been apprehended as an illegal absentee or has habitually absented himself.”
SEE ALSO BREAKING: Nigerian Soldier Arrested After Making Video Saying Buratai, Service Chiefs Have Failed Nigerians
The lawyer noted that the millitary had totally failed to give regard to provisions of the law, urging the military against abusing the fundamental rights of the soldier.
“It is noteworthy to state that courts have established in plethora of cases that the millitary is bound to observe the rules of natural justice relating to fair hearing. This is the position of the law in cases such as Adeloye v. Oloma Motors Nigeria Ltd (2002) 8 NWLR (Pt. 769) 445 and Olowu v. Nigerian Navy (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt 350) 1278 1304 Para. B (CA)
“We, therefore, wish to warn the army to desperately avoid the violation of Lance Corporal Martins’ fundamental human rights as same will be decisively dealt with,” he added.