Convicted soldiers: Falana wants 10 years jail term quashed

The 10 years jail term prescribed for 66 soldiers who were initially sentenced to death by firing squad should be outrightly quashed, Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer has said.

Mr. Falana, who represented 58 of the convicted soldiers during the military court martial, said Sunday that instead of reducing the “unjust convictions and death sentences” passed on the soldiers, the Chief of Army Staff should just release them.

The army in a statement Saturday said it had commuted the death sentence passed on the soldiers to jail terms after a review of their cases.

“It was on the basis of the review and recommendations that the Chief of Army Staff commuted the death sentences of the 66 soldiers to 10 year jail term,” Sani Usman, army spokesperson said.

“The sentences are to run concurrently.”

But Mr. Falana noted that 70 soldiers, not 66 as stated by the army, were convicted last year.

“12 soldiers were convicted in September 2014 and sentenced to death by a court martial for demanding for weapons when the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army visited a military camp in the war zone,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“58 others were convicted and sentenced to death in December by another court martial for demanding for weapons to fight the insurgents.

“Therefore, the number ofsoldiers who were sentenced to deathby the two courts-martial is 70 and not 66.”

Mr. Falana named the remaining four soldiers left out in the commutal of the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment as LCP Bankole Taiwo, LCP Ayodele Olawale, LCP Isiah Osofu, and Adebayo Gbenga.

“Although the soldiers were charged with mutiny, the only allegation proved against them at the courts-martial was that they protested the refusal of the military authorities to provide weapons to fight insurgency,” Mr. Falana said.

“Unlike many soldiers who deserted the army, the convicts were ready to defend the territorial integrity of the country. They only made a legitimate demand for equipment to fight the insurgents who were better equipped and motivated.

“The second batch of convicts actually fought and defeated the Boko Haram troops at Delwa in Borno State when weapons were eventually made available to them.

“But for having the temerity to demand for weapons they were convicted and sentenced to death.”

Mr. Falana argued that the soldiers’ demand for weapons was their right under Section 179 of the Armed Forces Act which provides that a soldier can make a complaint to his commanding officer without any fear of punishment.

The lawyer further cited the case of Corporal Segun Oladele and 22 others against the Nigerian Army (in 2003) where the soldiers were injured in the ECOMOG operations in Liberia.

“The respondent flew them to a Cairo hospital for medical treatment,” said Mr. Falana.

“On the day they were billed to return to Nigeria, they protested violently at the Cairo airport over the non payment of their estacode. They were brought home and charged with mutiny before a court-martial which convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment.”

Mr. Falana said the soldiers sought redress at the Court of Appeal where their conviction was set aside.


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  • Omotolaaraujo

    Please fight on for all of the soldiers that have been denied justice. If soldiers can’t complain about not having weapons, how are new soldiers going to be recruited to serve? Troops should not be treated this way. Nigeria has broken the trust of the public on every subject.

  • Sir Demo

    God blessed yu Fakana was continuing with Late Gani Fawehinmi crusade. History will never forget your efforts. Let the Jacob Daudus, Mike Ozeikhomes keep stuffing up on proceed from loots. They will have their place as well in history books.

  • Northeast

    In fact these Soldiers supposed to be set free and be re-engaged because of the way they were poorly equipped then.
    Thank God they are alive today because many did not make it. I appeal to the powers that be to temper justice with mercy by freeing them and return them to the front lines with better weapons to finish the work.
    I am hundred percent with you Mr Falana and we are praying day and night for their freedom and by the Grace of Allah, they will soon be free.

  • javscong javscong

    I agree 100% with Mr. Falana that these soldiers MUST be set free,and retired with full benefits. In the light of all the exposures in Dasukigate, these soldiers are to be regarded as heroes for having the guts to cry out when they did. In my view it is the service chiefs who knew what the plight of the soldiers was but refused to say a word, that ought to be in prisons. Did the Chief of Defense Staff not tell the entire world that no aircraft had been bought for the Air Force since 1982, AFTER HE HAD BEEN RETIRED? The government should spread the dragnet to include the big boys NOT just the ratings. Whilst at this, why is a RANSOME KUTI the only top ranking officer to be dismissed and sent to prison????? Is this “Army Arrangement” as usual???? 80% of the front line commanders are major generals and from the northern states, so why pick on a Ransome Kuti. The general in Borno where boko haram ran riot, and the troops mutinied is a northerner, where is he today?????

  • Saydo Shan

    Bros Femo, U r doing a wonderful job. Truly, U an icon of Human Rights, Liberty and Egality. If not for U, these soldiers will just been wasted.

  • Atunde Adeola Yusuf


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