The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, says the Nigerian Army firmly believes in the rule of law and will continue to uphold human rights at all times.
Yahaya said this while inaugurating the new headquarters complex of the Directorate of Legal Services (Army) on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said the team of military lawyers at the directorate had continued to render valuable professional legal advice and guidance to the Nigerian Army, in line with the constitution and international best practices.
He said the new complex could be best described as a dream come true for thr directorate and, indeed, the Nigerian Army.
He said the army under his watch had continued to improve on its infrastructure to provide conducive working environment at its establishments, formations and units across the country.
According to him, the directorate of legal services is the trust bearer of the Nigerian army on all legal issues and overtime, the directorate has grown, developed and distinguished itself in the temple of justice.
“The directorate provides timely and balanced legal advice and services, contributing to the overall drive of the Nigerian Army in carrying out its constitutional roles within the ambit of the law.
“Recall section 149 subsection 3 of the Armed Forces Act provides that and I quote, ‘before the confirming authority takes action under section 150 of the act on a record of trial by court martial, the confirming authority shall obtain from the directorate of legal service of the armed forces legal review of the case.’
“This has always been the case in practice.
“For the directorate to effectively deliver its invaluable services and responsibilities, it requires a conducive working environment; it is on that premise that this project was conceived,” he said.
He said the structure was initiated based on the necessity to oil the wheels of justice to better serve the Nigerian Army and by extension, the country.
“This is because the Nigerian Army firmly believes in the rule of law and the vital legal services rendered by our professional military lawyers.
“The officers of this directorate have continued to steer the legal affairs of the Nigerian Army in accordance with the rule of law as expected from barristers and solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria,” he said.
Yahaya assured the nation of the loyalty of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He reiterated the commitment of the army to work with the other services, agencies and stakeholders to provide safe and secure environment for free, fair and credible elections.
He also warned mischief makers to abide by the law of the land and not interfere with the process to allow citizens to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote.
The Director, Legal Services (Army), Maj.-Gen. Mahmood Wambai, said the directorate had 10 lawyers drawn from other corps when it was established in 1981.
Wambai said it had grown to align the Nigerian Army with the rest of the armies of the developed world to embrace the new era of globalisation, respect for human rights and rule of law, while maintaining discipline as the bedrock of the Nigerian Army.
He said the directorate had continued to uphold its professional obligations in line with the extant Nigeria regulations or rule of law.
This, according to him, is inspired by the vision of the Chief of Army Staff to have a professional Nigerian Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment in defence of Nigeria.
“I assure you that it will be utilised to attract visionary minds and idealistic conversations from around the globe to stimulate critical thinking and legal problem solving skills, which will enhance and uphold the refining of our military justice system.