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This research titled: Analysis of the Doctrine of Compact under the Nigerian Military Law is concerned about the legal status of a soldier upon joining the military profession on the one hand, and his contract of service to the state on the other hand. The soldiers compact spelt-out his right privileges, liabilities and limitations. He is expected to perform his constitutional roles to the state in accordance to rule of law and International acceptable standard. The importance of the military profession in the development of a state cannot be over emphasized because no nation in the world today can develop without peace and stability. The primary role of the military is to ensure peace and stability through performance of their constitutional roles. It is in line with the important constitutional roles of the military that the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria established the Armed Forces of Nigeria namely; Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air force with their specific roles to the country. These constitutional roles of the soldier to the state is subjugated to military, civil and international law. However, it has been observed that there are problems in the application of military law to the soldier which range from the abused of human rights to inconsistencies of the military law with the constitution. The aim of the research work is to analyzed the legal status of the soldier under military law, civil law, and international law. In achieving this the objective is evaluating the extend of the application of military law, civil law and international law of the soldier in terms of his rights, duties, privileges and limitations. This research work adopts the doctrinal research methodology. The sources of information relied upon include relevant Textbooks, Statutes, Articles in Journals, Case Law, Internet Materials, Newspapers and Conference Papers. The research work finds that the Military Law and Military Justice System are not inconformity with democratic rules and the spirit of the constitution which has largely been the challenges of the Military Justice System in the Administration of Military Justice. The research concludes by recommending that the Military Justice System should be reformed to be inconformity with democratic rules and the constitution so as to correct the inconsistencies that infringes on human rights of service personnel. It also recommended for the reformed of the Armed Forced (Disciplinary Proceedings) (Special Provisions) Act which is discriminatory to service personnel and as well legalized double jeopardy in its provisions. Finally, it is recommended the need for soldiers to be educated at the point of joining the military service on their legal status, so as to help in upholding the law and preserving human rights by service personnel.




1.1       Background to the Study

This study deals with how the soldier is subjected to tripartite laws namely: military law,

civil law and international law. The soldier upon acquisition of military status, did not only

subject himself to a tripartite legal status, but also added onto himself additional legal

responsibilities distinct from the civilian. The English Court in confirmation of the above fact,

said a soldier does agree and consent that he shall be subject to the military discipline and cannot

appeal to the civil courts to rescue him from his own compact.1 The English court decision is no

different with the legal status of a soldier in Nigeria except that during the military rule,

application of civil laws in the case of the soldier was restricted. The advent of the military into

political arena in Nigeria, application of civil laws on the soldier was restricted. Various military

decrees promulgated during the first and second phases of military rules in Nigeria prevented the

soldier from appealing the decisions of courts martial to the court of Appeal.2 The decrees

provided that all cases of appeal from courts martial pending before the court of Appeal should

abate.3 The respective service councils of the armed forces shall hear and determine appeal from

courts martial as the final body.4 This was the position of the soldier‟s legal status under the

military administration in Nigeria.

The transition of Nigeria from military rule to a democratically elected government on

29th May, 1999, has not only generated far reaching implications on the political, social and

economical sectors but has equally implemented the hitherto tripartite legal status of the soldier.

1 Grant vs. Gould (1972) Henry Blackstone 69

2 Section (1) and (2) of the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree No. 1 of 1966 and Section 5 (1) of the Military Court (Special Powers) Decree No. 23 of 1984.

3 Section 5 of the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree No. 1 of 1966. 4 Ibid


One major implication of the restoration of the soldier‟s tripartite legal status is that, things have

to be done in a more generally acceptable way that conforms to the rule of law and international

standards.5 Another implication is that both civil and military thoughts, processes and practices

have to conform to the democratic dispensation as ag

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