'Law Qualifies What Enable Military Personnel to Be Discipline' - General Irabor Harps on Discipline

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor has said that, the Armed Forces of Nigeria is anchored on discipline, and law qualifies what will enable personnel to be discipline, therefore the actions or inactions of personnel is in the point of view to have an effective military, noting that without discipline, no military personnel can perform effectively while discharging their constitutional responsibilities.

General Irabor stated this on Thursday, 16 February 2023 at a public presentation of a book titled Fundamentals of Military Law and Practice authored by Major Mike Kebonkwu (Rtd) of Koyen-Hi Kebonkwu Chamber at Nigerian Army Resource Centre, (NARC), Asokoro, Abuja.

General Irabor who is the Chairman of the occasion stressed that the book launched is essential because it helps the military to X-ray in some of armed Forces of Nigeria legal documents "and how to add onto our activities within the armed forces.

He noted that personnel must be proactive, be prepared, and not solely lean on the Armed Forces -sponsored training, considering their zeal for continuous learning to keep pace with the demand of global best practices in military system.

General Irabor said the armed Forces is a creation of law, the constitution established the basis for the armed forces of Nigeria and all personnel conduct, all activities are called on law. 

"So our tactics, techniques and procedures are formulated from various laws, the principle one being the Nigerian Constitution and other legal provisions including the international humanitarian Law, International human Rights Law and other legal enablers", he added. 

He urged Military personnel must invest and improve themselves by acquiring more knowledge in order to perform well beyond regimental trainings provided for them by the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

The book reviewer Dr AFK Adasu while reviewing the 261 Pages of the book, comprising of seven chapters including the Armed Forces Act, noted that This book is the latest entrant in military jurisprudence from the point of view of a hard- core professional of military law; an investigator, a trial attorney and thoroughbred practitioner of military law, by no other but Mike Kebonkwu.

He said the book examines what military duties are which may not be exhaustive and insist that personal duties of a commander or superior officer will not constitute military duty.

The Chapter three looks at offences generally and narrows it to military offences that are peculiarly service related. The book interrogates some offences created under the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN 2004 which appear to be in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended).

The book reviewer also added that in Chapter four, that speaks on Command responsibility he found the author's preference to introduce this very instructive because commanders are known to have been punished because of the acts and omissions of their subordinates using command responsibility as an omnibus cover.

Dr Adasu stated also that on Chapter 6 looks at summary trial. The book attempts to bring out details of procedures of summary trial in its beauty at the Battalion level which can be better appreciated in a moot court trial.

The book is of the view that summary trial should not lead to dismissal of soldiers given the reason that because the soldier is not represented by counsel of his choice during summary trial it therefore offends the provision of Section 36(6)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The book descended heavily on plea bargain as inimical to administration of military justice especially as it affects regimental discipline. The issue is that even when plea bargain is done, it ignores the procedural requirement for the terms to be written down.

The military lawyers try to avoid rigorous trial process which one sees as indolence. Plea bargain more often than not is also not fair to the accused person because he is always in a disadvantageous position 

In his vote of thanks, the author Major Mike Kebonkwu (Rtd) thanked the Chairman of the book presentation General Lucky Irabor, the Special guest of Honour, Chief of Army Staff ably represented noting that the book is an insight into the basis of military law and regimentation in the best military tradition.

He said the book resolves the issue why summary trial should not lead to dismissal of soldiers, ratings and airmen notwithstanding the position of the Acton such procedural matter in contradistinction to the constitution as the Grundnorm.

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