“Obey the last command” is a popular saying in military and other forces. This creates the air that a soldier has no choice or voice, rather a soldier must obey all commands. This is the premise for the popular song of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (“Zombie” in his 1976 Album), wherein he described soldiers as zombie (a will-less and speechless human. Well, does the “obey the last command” principle excuse a military or para-military officer from the punishments designed for a breach of law and human right? These and more are considered in this work.
“Obeying the Last Command”:
Military, para-military and other forces in Nigeria are all creations of law and they must obey laws. Greater than all forces, institutions, persons, governments and interests in Nigeria and outside Nigeria is the Constitution of Nigeria. Hence, every person and thing in Nigeria must obey the constitution of Nigeria.
The constitution of Nigeria of Nigeria contains the fundamental human rights of persons in Nigeria. As expected, the human rights of all persons in Nigeria must be obeyed by all persons (including, all forces in Nigeria) to avoid a violation the constitution of Nigeria. Aside the constitution of Nigeria, there are other laws in Nigeria that criminalizes certain actions and inactions of persons in Nigeria. Hence, all forces in Nigeria are also mandated to obey and respect such laws.
Obeying a command/order is not a permission to violate any law or to breach any human right. Breaking any law or violating any human right has its own punishment. Where there is torture in any security agency, the immediate commanding officer in-charge of the unit/department that committed such offence of torture will be held liable as an accessory to the crime, for any act or violating any human right has its own punishment. Where there is torture in any security agency, the immediate commanding officer in-charge of the unit/department that committed such offence of torture will be held liable as an
accessory to the crime, for any act or omission or negligence on his part that may have led to the commission of torture by his subordinates/colleagues. The punishment for torture is imprisonment for not more than 25 years and there is no option for fine.
In obeying last commands in a force, the command must be lawful. Where a command or an order (whether written or verbal) is unlawful, no persons is expected to obey it. Any person that obeys an unlawful command has violated laws, must be prosecuted and punished. Also, the person that gave an unlawful order must be prosecuted too.
Military, police and all other forces in Nigeria are not above any law in Nigeria. Report all unlawful commands. Soldiers and officers of other forces do not need to obey unlawful commands.