Military special court martial sitting

Military Court Martial: A Tele-Guided Verdict?

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A Special Court Martial of the Nigerian Armed Forces has demoted the Director, 68 Reference Hospital, Yaba, in Lagos, Major General Patrick Falola, to the rank of Brigadier General.

The demotion follows the conviction of the Major General who was accused of unlawfully admitting students for clinical training without due clearance from the army headquarters.

Maj. General Falola is said to have admitted Nigerian students studying in Espan Formation University Cotonou in Benin Republic between July and September, 2016.

Delivering judgment in the case against Maj General Falola, who is presently a Commander of the Armed Forces Hospital in Kano, President of the Special Court Martial, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum, sentenced the accused officer to a reduction in rank from Major General to Brigadier General on count one of the charge.

He was, however, discharged and acquitted of the second count of fraudulent misapplication of the hospital’s property.

Lawyer to Major General Falola, Wing Commander Enokela Onyilo-Uloko [Rtd], however, criticized the conviction, saying it was a premeditated attempt to taint the unblemished record of his client whom he described as a distinguished medical officer with outstanding records.

He further stated that: “On hearing of this kind of conviction, we know that it is based on nothing. There is no law, no instruction put on the ground by the armed forces that the senior officer needs to take permission from the higher authority before allowing such training to Nigerian citizens.

“No such law or instruction was tendered in evidence, but they are saying that he should have used his initiative. “When there is no law criminalizing an act, when that act is done, it does not amount to criminal offence,” the lawyer said.

He further vowed to appeal the judgment of the Special Court Martial.

The judgement of the Army court martial is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Army Council.

During the proceeding, the department of the Military Secretary (Army) presented the service record of the General to the Special Court Martial. On records, Major General Patrick Falola was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1982, he was described as an officer of impeccable character noted for his intelligence, honesty, transparency, dedication to work, enthusiasm for Military service and has always been an outstanding medical officer of the Military. As a senior consultant Ophthalmologist who has served Nigeria as the chairman Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (Lagos State |Chapter) where he represented the army very well. According to the same records, Major General Falola, apart from the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, has also commanded several other Military Hospitals including the Military Hospital Lagos (Greek), 3 Div. Hospital Jos and the Armed Forces Specialist Hospital Kano.  It was noted in the records that he significantly upgraded all these hospitals, for example, he refurbishment and setup the Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal Unit at both Greek and Yaba Hospitals. The Army further stated that he transformed the Bonny Camp (Lagos) Eye Centre to a world-class status; he introduced Laser Equipment worth millions of naira at no cost to the Nigeria Army, but by sheer dedication to work and resourcefulness. He is reputed to be an exemplar military administrator, clinician and surgeon. He was singly commended for his prompt and professional handling of Cholera outbreak in Jos and proactive initiatives to prevent Lassa Fever and Ebola outbreaks in the Barracks. In all his years, there has never been a breach of military discipline reported against him.

Are there other reasons behind this kind of verdict?

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