The Nigerian Army on Sunday announced that it is reviewing the cases of all soldiers who were disciplined for various offences.
Dozens of soldiers have been sentenced to death, life imprisonment and other punishment for various offences including mutiny, desertion, and disobedience of lawful orders. Majority of the sentences, carried out in various military courts, have been appealed by counsel to the affected officials and condemned by local and international rights groups.
However, on Sunday, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, said the army was itself already reviewing the punishments.
“For the avoidance of doubt it should be noted that the Nigerian Army is reviewing all recent disciplinary cases due to the wave of litigations and petitions by some aggrieved personnel,” Mr. Usman said.
The spokesperson, however, added that the “public should not misconstrue the recent directive to mean total recall of dismissed and deserter soldiers.”
Among the soldiers whose cases would be reviewed are the 54 sentenced to death on December 17, 2014. They were convicted for conspiracy to commit mutiny, and mutiny, and sentenced to death by firing squad.
In a trial that began in October, the soldiers, from the 111 Special Forces, were charged for disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer, Timothy Opurum, a Lieutenant Colonel, to take part in an operation to recapture Delwa, Bulabulin and Damboa in Borno State from Boko Haram terrorists on August 4.
Some of the accused soldiers testified that they refused to take part in the operation following the failure of the army to provide them with the necessary support equipment.
They explained that owing to a lack of equipment, they lost three officers, 23 soldiers plus 83 others suffering various degrees of injuries after their units were ambushed by Boko Haram fighters during an operation to retake the town of Bulabulin in Borno on July 9.
Some of the accused soldiers said they did not attend the briefing where the operation was announced, while others said they did not join the mission because they were ill and there was no medical personal attached to their unit to give medical assistance. Two other soldiers said they were given leave to attend to some administrative problems as at the time of the briefing.
Much of the trial was conducted in secret as journalists were barred mid-way into the deliberations.
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