|Credits – sunnewsonline.com
If you have
ever lived in a military barracks, attended a military school or know a thing or
two about the military, you will know the rule that the chain of command is
unbreakable and anyone who breaks it, gets broken, lol. The chain of command or
respect to seniority is sacred and it’s a big deal. Now imagine if a service
man strikes his superior officer, wow,
make we just talk say him own don end
such soldier will definitely be
I attended a military
high school, Nigerian navy to be precise and I remember a day I was beating for
no reason by a senior student, I was so sure I didn’t deserve the treatment I
got and angrily walked off to report the senior student to one of the military
officers on deck. The military officer listened and asked me to go call the
senior, he berated the senior for beating me for no apparent reason and asked
me to give the said senior 6 strokes from a horse whip. Oboy, did I gladly lash
the senior’s buttocks. After acting out my vengeance, the military officer asked
the senior to get up and said “this boy could come and report you to me because
you did not beat him well enough, now take him away”. Immediately I
heard those words, I knew it was time to draw up a will and last testament, I was
definitely going to die, the senior student just looked and said “follow me” as
he walked off to the senior dormitory.
I didn’t die
that day, obviously, else I won’t be typing this article many years after but
let’s just say, I have never forgotten that experience and I doubt if I ever
will. If my secondary school could be that devoted to the chain of command
without minding if a senior student had killed me that day, imagine what it
must mean to actually strike a superior officer in the military,
gbege i am sure
scenario where a Major barks orders at a Sergeant to carry out a directive,
only for the Sergeant to slap the Major because the Major is his younger
cousin. Obviously, that will happen only in a Nollywood movie because Insubordinate
behaviour is completely frowned upon by the military; Section 54 of the Armed
Forces Act states that-
“Any person subject to service law
who strikes or otherwise uses violence to, or offers violence to, his superior
officer; or uses threatening or insubordinate language to his superior officer,
is guilty of an offence under this section and liable, on conviction by a court
– martial, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or any less
punishment provided by the Act”.
It states further in subsection 2
that a person convicted for the offence stated above shall only be liable to be
imprisoned for no more than two years if the offence was committed on active
service or involved the striking or other use of violence, to the superior
officer exercising authority as such. A superior officer means an officer, a
warrant officer or its equivalent in rank, non – commissioned officer subject
to service law under the Act of superior rank, and includes an officer, a
warrant officer or its equivalent rank,or non – commissioned officer so subject
of equal rank but greater seniority while exercising authority as that person’s
This blog post is the second of a
series relating to crimes and punishment under the Armed Forces Act, Cap C20, Laws
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). Last time, I wrote a piece on the
offence of Mutiny
under the Armed Forces Act.
Philip is in a big hurry to get to his interview, he has been invited by a
busy CEO to come in at 12, for a personal interview and he is stepping on the
accelerator, heading fast to Victoria island on the 3rd mainland bridge, when suddenly, the commercial bus – driver in front of him makes an unexpected
swerve into his lane, he tries to avoid a collision, steps on his breaks and
drives straight into the Peugeot 206 on the left lane. Philips looks ahead at
the badly damaged 206 through his cracked windscreen and is quietly giving
thanks for being alive, when 4 kacki dressed soldiers jump out of the 206,
before he can say Jack Robinson, 2 soldiers are beside his window, one dishes
him a hot slap while the other drags him out through the window, Philip begins
to shake and stammer , he knows he is in big trouble.
Two area boys beat – up a soldier while others cheer in the Onitsha motor-park
because he slapped one of them who had earlier driven his commercial bus into
the soldier’s Toyota Camry, he angrily speeds
off towards the barracks and 15 minutes later, two trucks carrying about 40
soldiers drive into the park, solders disembark quickly and horse-whips begin to crack on the backs of any
and all bus drivers/park touts in the garage.
Today’s post is on disorderly behaviour
among the ranks of the Armed forces or persons subject to service law (service
law means the Armed Forces Act and it includes the military, naval, or air-force
laws of any allied forces. Members of
the armed forces are required to be of lawful and responsible behaviour always.
Incidents involving vandalism, street fighting and acts of public nuisance are strictly
under the purview of area boys and touts, not for our highly trained, highly
skilled and honourable service men.
In the past, we have had instances
where soldiers behaved unruly in public, a recent incident happened on Ikorodu
road in Lagos where it was reported that soldiers burnt a Lagos owned BRT
commercial bus and allegedly beat a few BRT drivers/ members of the public,
though military authorities denied the involvement of soldiers in the mayhem.
If you have lived in Nigeria for a while, it’s kind of a default attitude to
life to stay out of the way of service men, there is an aura around them that
oozes “you don’t want to mess with me”, LOL. Especially, if you run into a
military convoy on the road with menacing looking solders holding machine guys,
kobokos horse whips chasing you out of the way.
Fighting, quarrelling and disorderly
behaviour is provided for under Section 55 of the Armed Forces Act, it states
that: A person subject to service law under the Act who –
- Fights, quarrels or behaves in a disorderly manner with any other person,
whether subject to service law under this Act or not, or
- Uses threatening, abusive, insulting or provocative words or behavior
likely to cause a disturbance,
Is guilty of an offence under this section and liable, on conviction by a
Court- Martial, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or any less
punishment provided by the Act.
This must be an eye – opener for most
people, service men breaking the above mentioned law is not a new thing, ask
the danfo-drivers and motorists who have been victims of severe beatings and
bullying by service men. Though, i know sometimes the motorists could be at
fault, inflicting physical pain on them in my opinion is an abuse of power.
Next time, you happen to be around when another person is getting bullied or
beat-up by any service man, let them know they are in breach of the law. There are
always exceptions though, for example in instances where service men are
ordered to restore the peace during a riot or where jihadist and oil bunkering
thieves are being challenged, now that’s a different ball game altogether.
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq
Adedunmade is a legal practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria and publishes the
law blog “Legalnaija”.
Its 4am at the military base in the northern part of Borno
state, the camp commander has just received intelligence that heavily armed
insurgents have been spotted advancing into a neighbouring town. The commander immediately
rallies the troops and orders an immediate assault on the convoy of insurgents.
However, several soldiers in the battalion refuse to engage the enemy because
they believe the insurgents have superior fire power and refuse to obey the commander’s
orders. Tempers flare, a brawl ensues among the troops and the commander is
shot at by a junior officer spear heading the conflict. The military police
have however calmed the situation and the officer who shot the pistol during
the brawl has been arrested and will be facing a Court-Martial.
This blog post is the first of a series relating to crimes
and punishment under the Armed Forces Act, Cap C20, Laws of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria (2004). Currently, over 200
Military personnel are undergoing a Court-Martial for several offences including
mutiny, assault, misconduct and tampering with military property. Though some
are being tried for lesser offences, about 12 have been found guilty of the act
of mutiny and sentenced to life imprisonment, a punishment that was commuted
from the initial death sentence handed down for shooting at a vehicle conveying
Mutiny is provided for
under Section 52 of the Armed Forces Act. According to the law mutiny means a
combination between 2 persons who are subject to service law to
or resist lawful authority in the Federation.
authority in such circumstances as to make the disobedience subversive of
discipline, or with the object of avoiding any duty or service against, or in
connection with operations against the enemy; or
the performance of any duty or service in the Federation or in any arm of
service of the Armed Forces or in any force cooperating with the armed forces
or in any part of the armed forces.
The law further provides in the same section that any person
who takes part in a mutiny involving the use of violence or the threat of the
use of violence or having as its object or one of its objects the refusal or
avoidance of any duty or service against, or in connection with operations
against the enemy, or the impeding of the performance of that duty or service
or anyone who incites other persons who are also subject to service law to take
part in a mutiny, whether actual or intended is guilty of an offence under the
law and liable on conviction by a Court-Martial to suffer death.
Furthermore, any person not falling under the above, who
takes part in a mutiny, or incites any person subject to service law to take
part in a mutiny, whether actual or intended is guilty of an offence and liable
on conviction to life in prison.
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq