NIGERIA: 600 Nigerian Soldiers Facing Court Martial Over Boko Haram Crisis

The Nigerian Army yesterday said about 600 of its officers and soldiers were facing court martial for various offences, before the general c...

The Nigerian Army yesterday said about 600 of its officers and soldiers were facing court martial for various offences, before the general courts-martial sitting in Lagos and Abuja.

The army authorities also explained that the Army Council had not sat to either confirm or reverse the death sentence passed last year on 66 soldiers convicted for mutiny by a general court-martial, making it difficult for the victims to appeal the verdict.

Addressing journalists, the acting director of army public relations (DAPR), Colonel Sani Usman said, "There are currently two separate courts-martial going on in the Army Headquarters Garrison and 81 Division Nigerian Army, with a view to ensuring quick dispensation of justice, discipline and professionalism."

Usman further said that 473 of the soldiers were facing the court martial at the Army Headquarters Garrison, while 106 soldiers were standing trial at 81 Division, Lagos State.

The soldiers were said to be facing trial for offences ranging from insubordination and disobedience to acts of cowardice, refusal to carry out military duties and indiscipline, amongst others.

According to Usman, it was common practice in the military to court martial any soldier who runs foul or the law and whom the authorities feel cannot be summarily dismissed.

Usman also said that since the detention of the soldiers had depleted the number of personnel prosecuting the war, the army was already adding to its personnel strength in the North East.

Col Usman however said that not all the court-martialled officers were guilty of mutiny, but that an "unprecedented number of them was on trial."

He said that 481 personnel of the Armed Forces Special Forces, which comprises personnel of the army, navy, air force and the police, had completed training and had been inducted into the theatre of operations within 7 Division's area of responsibility.

He said an additional battalion, 151 Battalion, had also completed its training and induction into the theatre, while two other battalions, 152 and 153 Battalions, were currently undergoing training and would be inducted on completion.

"Additionally, Army Headquarters Task Force Group is currently in the last phase of its training, while Nigerian Army Armoured School, Bauchi, has intensified training of Tank Crew personnel. Moreover, personnel training on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the United Kingdom and United States is ongoing," Usman said.

He also disclosed that 2,388 members of 72 Regular Recruits Intake at Depot Nigerian Army, Zaria, Kaduna State, would pass out on Friday May 22, which would also boost the personnel strength of the army.

275 women and children rescued from Sambisa taken to an unknown destination

The 275 women and children rescued from the dreaded insurgent sect, Boko Haram, in Sambisa Forest and brought to Malkohi Camp in Yola on May 2 2015 have all been taken to an unknown destination, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively reveal.

When this paper paid a visit to the Malkohi camp where the displaced persons were kept it was found deserted, as all the women and children had been moved to an unknown destination by military authorities.

A source at the camp said no reason was given by the military authorities before the evacuation.

"Soldiers came with buses and started packing them Tuesday afternoon in a hurry and when we asked the motive for their action, they said it was an order from above.

"They hurriedly took them to Yola International Airport where a military aircraft was waiting and they were whisked away," the source said.

Another source at the camp however said the action of the military may not be unconnected to speculation that some of the women in the camp were communicating with Boko Haram members at night.

"Some women in the camp are allegedly communicating with Boko Haram members and there is heightened fear that if the activity is left unchecked, the issue may degenerate into a serious security threat. I believe that the issue may be responsible for the military action," the source added.

When contacted, the senior information officer of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Sani Datti said he was aware of the development but could not comment on it, noting that the issue was entirely a military affair.

Efforts made to contact the army spokesman of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Captain Nuhu Jafaru proved abortive, as calls made to his cell phone did not connect.
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