Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nigeria: Soldiers Charged with Mutiny, Twelve Sentenced to Death

According to AFP, twelve Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny after shots were fired at their commanding officer in the northeast city of Maiduguri earlier this year.
Court president Brigadier General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo said the sentences were subject to confirmation by Nigeria's military authorities, but added there was no doubt about the gravity of the offense.
A nine-member military tribunal, convened in the capital of Abuja, convicted the soldiers following the incident on May 14, 2014 when shots were fired at the commanding officer of the Nigerian Army's 7th Division, which is tasked with fighting Boko Haram insurgents.
The panel considered the enormous impact on the counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram, BG Okonkwo told the court.
COMMENT:What has long since been forgotten is the mass hostage-taking of 200+ schoolgirls in April, most of whom have been taken as brides by Boko Haram fighters. 
Nigeria's armed forces has been under pressure to end the bloody five-year insurgency that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives, rendered tens of thousands of others homeless and seen the militants make territorial gains in the northeast in recent months.
Front-line troops have frequently complained of a lack of adequate weapons and equipment with which to engage Boko Haram on the battlefield. 
Residents in towns raided by the Islamists have said the insurgents are often armed with RPGs and anti-aircraft weapons mounted on trucks and, in some cases, armored personnel carriers.
Soldiers by contrast have reported that they lacked ammunition and been sent out to the bush to fight without basic communications equipment.
Last month, dozens of Nigerian soldiers refused to deploy for an offensive to try to retake the captured Borno town of Gwoza, which Boko Haram has claimed as part of an Islamic caliphate.
Soldiers' wives also have demonstrated at the gate of a military base in Maiduguri in an effort to prevent their husbands from deploying without proper equipment.
The country's military spokesman Chris Olukolade denied the troops had mutinied and told AFP that Nigerian soldiers were "too disciplined and patriotic to indulge in this dangerous offense."
President Goodluck Jonathan has asked lawmakers to approve a $1 billion (750 million euros) foreign loan to upgrade the capacity of the military, which was seen as a tacit acknowledgement that troops were being out-gunned. 
The court-martial heard that soldiers from the 101st Battalion opened fire at a convoy containing the 7th Division commander General Amadu Mohammed at an army medical center in Maiduguri.
Eighteen soldiers in all, ranked from private to corporal, were charged with mutiny, criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, disobeying orders, insubordination and false accusation.
Twelve soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny, which hardly makes sense, given the trouble that Nigeria is having with mutinying soldiers.

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