Nigerian army’s death sentence on 54 soldiers “genocidal” — Falana

Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has condemned the death sentence passed on 54 soldiers by an army court-martial.

In a statement Thursday, Mr. Falana said the convicted soldiers, the second batch to be condemned to death by a military court, had been sent on a suicide mission by army authorities ill-equipped and poorly motivated.

The soldiers, attached to the 7 Division, Nigerian Army in Maiduguri include two Corporals, Cpl, nine Lance Corporals, LCpl and 49 Private soldiers.

They were found guilty Wednesday by a General Court-Martial in Abuja after facing a two count of criminal conspiracy and mutiny.

Of the 59 soldiers initially arraigned before the court, five were discharged and acquitted while 54 were sentenced to death.

Mr. Falana said that the acquittal was designed to give the false impression that the “dubious” verdict was fair and just.

“The soldiers were in the SF 111 Batallion which has 174 instead of 750 soldiers,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“The soldiers in the Batallion were neither equipped nor motivated. They are young men whose ages range between 21 and 25. Most of them joined the army in 2012.

“With little or no training whatsoever they were deployed to fight the dreaded Boko Haram sect.”

Mr. Falana also accused the army hierarchy of diverting funds allocated for payment of salaries and allowances of soldiers and for purchase of arms and ammunition.

“Instead of bringing such unpatriotic officers to book the military authorities have engaged in the diversionary tactics of wasting the lives of innocent soldiers by sentencing them to death without any legal justification,” Mr. Falana said.

On July 9, 2014 the Boko Haram sect launched a ferocious attack on the Batallion killing three officers and 23 soldiers and inflicting injuries on 82 others.

Despite assurances that adequate weapons would be provided to fight the terrorists, according to Mr. Falana, authorities failed to fulfil their promise.

On August 4th, and after the insurgents had annexed more territories in Borno State, the soldiers were ordered to recapture Delwa, Balubulin and Damboa from the Boko Haram terrorists.

“The soldiers demanded for weapons so as not to lose more officers and men in the circumstance. A few soldiers who embarked on the suicidal mission together with the Commanding Officer were ambushed by the Boko Haram troops,” said Mr. Falana.

“When some weapons were made available on August 8, 2014, the soldiers moved to the battlefront, dislodged the satanic Boko Haram sect and liberated their captured colleagues and officers.

“They were commended for their bravery and sacrifice. But for some inexplicable reasons, the army authorities ordered that the soldiers be charged with mutiny for allegedly exposing the armed forces to embarrassment by asking for weapons.

“Thus, 60 soldiers were charged before the court-martial led by Brigadier-General M. Yusuf. The charge was however withdrawn against one of them on health ground.”

Mr. Falana, who served as defence counsel to the convicted soldiers, said that midway into the trial, journalists were shut out of the military court to avoid further embarrassment to the army.

“It is public knowledge that it was when the trial of the soldiers was in progress that the President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, sought and obtained the approval of the National Assembly for a loan of USD$1 billion to purchase equipment for the prosecution of the war on terror,” he said.

“Up till now, the loan has not been utilized for the purchase of weapons.

Mr. Falana also faulted the judgment delivered on Wednesday, noting that the court-martial refused to consider the evidence led in court and convicted the 54 soldiers for having the temerity to ask for weapons to carry out their tasks.

“Apart from the fact that the Prosecution did not lead any scintilla of evidence to prove the 2-count charge of conspiracy and mutiny against any of the convicts the Court-martial did not consider the defence of the soldiers in any material particular,” said Mr. Falana.

“Convinced that soldiers who made a legitimate demand for equipment to fight the insurgents cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be properly convicted for mutiny we shall take all necessary legal measures to prevent the army authorities from giving effect to the genocidal verdict of the court-martial.

“We submit that the oath of allegiance taken by the accused soldiers is not a license to commit suicide. It is a solemn undertaking to defend the nation based on the expectation that the Federal Government would have complied with Section 217 of the Constitution on the mandatory requirement to equip the armed forces adequately.

“It is important to state that when equipment was made available on 18 August 2014, the accused soldiers fought gallantly.”


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  • _Proudly Niger Deltan

    Somebody should tell Falana to shut up his big mouth. What does he mean by ‘Genocide’? You wouldn’t refer to the salary of $1.7m per year earned by miscreants and wayward legislathieves who scale 50m perimeter fences & gates as Genocidal but it is the military verdict that you will come speak about..

    Mutiny is mutiny. These were simply Boko haram sympathizers…except for lack of weapons (which I doubt), these guys should face the music. It is the norm in military circles and I don’t understand why people are getting unnecessarily sentimental. We are talking about military and not civil society. The rules are different…knowing of a coup but refusing to participate and not report the plot, makes you as culpable as he who was actively involved. This is military law. All bloody civilians like Falana should keep their mouths shut. Let the lawyers in the military speak.

    Falana should concentrate on reducing the Genocidal $1.7m which the old soldier crook called D. Markinson and his fellow crooks earn at the legislathief chambers. Oil prices have fallen, the salary of these gate scaling deviants must be revised to reflect the economic situation.

  • favourtalk

    Everything under GEJ is a trash and nothing has ever worked under his government, it has been one drama to another and injustice to impunity….we need a change and better government

    • Cecelia

      Shut up your mouth nd get out of that Cyber cafe

  • Ray Effiom

    Falana, you should be tried for treason. These soldiers refused to defend the nation against a foreign attack and even collaborated with the enemy and mutinied you blame the government? Where is your sense of patriotism? Boko harm is better equipped than the nigerian soldiers? False. As a so- called lawyer one would have thought that you would know the meaning of “genocide ” Unfortunately, you don’t know but simply drag in the word to appeal to the emotion not fact.That is a serious case incompetence.I would not seek your services for even a road traffic offence

    • Warri Boy

      Small time now they will begin to call Falana a Professor of Law. Haba! Nigeria! …When you are a SAN these days, you automatically become a Professor of law. No be small thing oh! Political Professors. Nonsense.

  • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

    After reading the closing arguments of both the prosecution and defense, honestly I’m beginning to see the f*ck of these soldiers, not from the prosecution but from the defense.

    Falana and co argued that these same soldiers were able to rescue an officer and others from the insurgents and even recaptured the community in the setting. How come they did that if they were not well equipped (their main reason for refusing to heed order to move out) .

    Something tells me the real grievances of these soldiers didn’t even feature in this trial, quite sadly. I feel they were protesting sabotage only that they couldn’t prove it as they weren’t sure who was behind it. This is the same problem with EFCC and allied bodies. Don’t rush a guy or a group as a result of hearsay or popular outcry without doing a good job of gathering evidence and facts. You risk letting them walk away and if they were really guilty they get emboldened and if they were not, they get incensed. Lose-lose situation.

    The best these soldiers woulda done like prosecution said was leave the army. Death sentence? Sounds harsh to be but that seems to be the rule around there.

    Leadership no be moimoi. Hard decisions lurking at every corner.

    • tundemash

      Did you not read this from same news report or you read it upside down ?

      “When some weapons were made available on August 8, 2014, the soldiers moved to the battlefront, dislodged the satanic Boko Haram sect and liberated their captured colleagues and officers.

      • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

        Clap for yourself mess mess.

        • tundemash

          Cl0wn …. if you have any dignity at all, remove the rubbish you wrote doubting the reasons given by the soldiers now that you realise you goofed !

  • GbemigaO

    Very delicate situation. I believe they will not be killed at the end but imprisoned. However, to maintain authority, the Nigerian army has to be seen as not condoning indiscipline . That is just the reality even if the soldiers have some right to have refused an order !

  • Bello

    A thought provoking piece. I always enjoy reading this writer who sees things with more advanced eyes.

  • Raymond

    “the eventual defeat of Britain in 1945”????? It is clear that this writer does not know what he is talking about. The man’s history is upside down