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Death sentence on 54 Nigerians soldiers for, allegedly, refusing to fight Boko Haram is diversionary. By Femi Falana

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Death sentence on 54 Nigerians soldiers for allegedly refusing to fight Boko Haram is diversionary.

By Femi Falana, activist lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria

Special to USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine,  and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston. Follow USAfrica at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247 and Twitter.com/Chido247

[On Wednesday December 18, 2014] the General Court-Martial sitting in Abuja which tried another batch of 59 soldiers for conspiracy to mutiny and mutiny convicted 54 of the accused persons and sentenced them to death while 5 were discharged and acquitted. 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. 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.
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With little or no training whatsoever they were deployed to fight the dreaded Boko Haram sect. The funds allocated for payment of the salaries and allowances of the soldiers and for purchase of arms and ammunition are usually diverted and cornered by corrupt military officers. 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.

On July 9, 2014 the Boko Haram sect launched a ferocious attack on the Batallion. As the soldiers were ill-equipped and ill-motivated the well armed terrorists killed 3 officers and 23 soldiers and inflicted serious injuries on 82 others. While sympathizing with the bereaved soldiers the army authorities assured them that adequate weapons would be provided to match the sophisticated weapons of the Boko Haram sect. But without the provision of the said weapons the soldiers were ordered on August 4, 2014 to recapture Delwa, Balubulin and Damboa in Borno State 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.

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. When the trial commenced against the remaining 59 the court-martial allowed defense correspondents and reporters to cover the proceedings. But the revealing testimonies of the prosecution witnesses embarrassed the army authorities.

In particular, the defence  pointed out that by not providing the soldiers with adequate weapons the Federal Government had violated Section 217 (2) (b) of the Constitution which provides that the Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air.

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. Up till now, the loan has not been utilized for the purchase of weapons!
It was on the basis of such revelation that the court-martial resorted to sitting in camera and prohibited the media from further reporting the proceedings. In the judgment delivered yesterday the court-martial refused to consider the evidence led in court and convicted 54 of the soldiers for having the temerity to ask for weapons to carry out the task of defending the territorial integrity of the nation.

Since the soldiers were justified in refusing to commit suicide the verdict which is characterized by gross miscarriage of justice will not stand. 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.
Femi-Falana-SAN
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.

VIDEO #CNN special #CHIBOK Girls n #BokoHaram Live intvw wt the Founder of USAfrica multimedia and public policy networks Chido Nwangwu. CNN anchors John Berman n Michaela Pereira.  

IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary, exclusively, at USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

USAfrica: BOKO HARAM’s latest killings sharpen divide for security team at Nigeria’s presidency. By Chido Nwangwu
http://usafricaonline.com/2013/10/21/usafrica-boko-harams-latest-killings-sharpen-divide-for-security-team-at-nigerias-presidency-by-chido-nwangwu/

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Dancing with “ghosts” of BOKO HARAM, President Jonathan, Sultan Abubakar and Nigeria’s national security. By Dr. Chido Nwangwu
http://usafricaonline.com/2013/04/05/dancing-with-ghosts-of-boko-haram-president-jonathan-sultan-abubakar-and-nigerias-national-security-by-chido-nwangwu/

VIDEO of the CNN International broadcast/profile of USAfrica and CLASSmagazine Publisher Chido Nwangwu.   http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn  

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Forthcoming 2015 BOOK: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary lives
Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”
He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.“I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia Chido_Nwangwu-speaking-jan11_2014specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

  Dr. Chido Nwangwu, moderator of the Achebe Colloquium (Governance, Security, and Peace in Africa) December 7-8, 2012 at Brown University in Rhode Island and former adviser on Africa business/issues to the Mayor of Houston, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1992, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; CLASSmagazine, AchebeBooks.com, the USAfrica-powered e-groups of AfricanChristians, Nigeria360 and the largest pictorial events megasite on the African diaspora www.PhotoWorks.TV . He was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn         e-mail: Chido247@Gmail.com wireless 1-832-45-CHIDO (24436).

 

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