Nigerian Army To Discipline Soldiers Over Mutiny

The Nigerian Army says discipline is the bedrock of military and soldiers found guilty of mutiny will be disciplined.

The Theatre Commander Of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Abba Dikko, disclosed this on Saturday while reading the riot act to soldiers fighting the insurgency in the Northeast.

Major General Dikko who hosted officers and men at the headquarters of the Theatre command in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, frowned at the act of mutiny, insisting that the officers voluntarily joined the military and as such must follow instructions.

“The bedrock of your service as a soldier is discipline. A soldier must remain disciplined at all times, a soldier must obey instructions. A soldier must be seen to be proactive, not retroactive,” he said.

Speaking concerning the fate of the thirty soldiers that recently protested their posting to Marte, a Local Government Area (LGA) in Northern Borno State, Dikko said they would be disciplined in accordance with military laws.

“We don’t punish in the military we discipline; discipline is the bedrock of the job if there’s no discipline then we can’t have an army so if a soldier errs he must be corrected.

“We are focused and doing what we are supposed to do in order to finish the assignment that we’re given and no matter what it takes we’ll do it professionally everybody is motivated and well catered for.

“There are some (soldiers) that are not here and you don’t know what they’re going through. You cannot say you’ve heard them complaining that they’re not in the townships. Some are in locations that are out of reach. So, we must understand the difficult times we find ourselves. When it becomes necessary to rejig ourselves we do it in a military way. We do it as enshrined in the armed forces act.”

Dikko also stressed that it is important that the military uphold the values and ethics of the system. According to him, military service is to fatherland not a service to oneself.

Cote D’ivoire Mutiny Comes To An End

Soldiers in Cote D’ivoire have on Tuesday accepted a new government offer to end a mutiny that has gripped the world’s biggest cocoa producer for four days.

Since Friday, soldiers have been shooting inside their barracks, spilling onto the streets, setting up road blocks and terrifying residents in major cities around the country.

The former rebels, now embedded in the army and who fought for years to get President Alassane Ouattara to power, were angry at the scrapping of a deal to give them back pay and bonuses.

The government tabled a new deal last night, which they rejected. But on Tuesday the government finally gave in, giving them exactly what they wanted which is around $8,000 each and then another $3,000 by the end of June.

Calm Returns After Ivory Coast Mutiny

Calm Returns After Ivory Coast MutinyCalm has now returned to the streets of Ivory Coast’s second city, Bouake, a day after mutinous soldiers took to the streets in a protest over pay.

The revolt which started on Friday, spread from there to other cities, including the commercial hub, Abidjan, where peace has also been restored.

This follows a deal that was struck between the soldiers and the government on Saturday, though details are scant.

According to AFP news agency, it was confirmed that there had been no firing in Bouake since Saturday evening.

“Traffic has resumed this morning and the shops have reopened.”

Revolting soldiers in Ivory Coast have released the country’s Defense Minister after detaining him for two hours.

Alain Donwahi was held in the city by troops who rejected the terms of a deal announced by President Alassane Ouattara.

The president has asked the troops to return to barracks, saying he had taken into account demands over pay and conditions.

UN In Bid To Avert Execution Of 54 Nigerian Soldiers On Death Row

SERAPThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has disclosed that the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions, led by Mr. Christof Heyns has stated that “appropriate action including communication to the government of President Goodluck Jonathan is being considered regarding the imminent execution of 54 soldiers in Nigeria.”

This followed a petition submitted to Mr Heyns by SERAP in December 2014 in which the group asked five UN human rights independent experts to individually and jointly use their “good offices and positions to urgently request the Nigerian government and its military authorities not to carry out the mass death sentences imposed on 54 Nigerian soldiers for what the government claimed was disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer.”

It would be recalled that on Wednesday December 17 2014, the Nigerian Army’s 7 division General Court Martial convicted 54 soldiers for conspiracy to commit mutiny and sentenced them to death by firing squad. The facts of the case indicate that the soldiers, from the 111 Special Forces, were charged for disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer, Timothy Opurum, a Lieutenant Colonel, to take part in an operation to recapture Delwa, Bulabulin and Damboa in Borno State from Boko Haram terrorists on August 4.

According to SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, “SERAP has been in discussion with Johel Dominique at the Office of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions both on the telephone and via email.

Johel Dominique has confirmed that the Special Rapporteur is considering appropriate action to avert the imminent execution of 54 soldiers on death row in the country. We have also confirmed to the Special Rapporteur that SERAP has the consent of Mr Femi Falana, SAN, the legal counsel to the 54 soldiers to file the petition.”

Mumuni further noted that “SERAP welcomes the decision by Mr. Christof Heyns to intervene in the matter. Given his longstanding human rights commitment and achievements, we have absolutely no doubt that Mr Heyns will work assiduously to ensure that justice is done in this matter and we wish him well as he strives to do that.”

It would be recalled that SERAP had in a petition dated 23 December 2014 and addressed to five special rapporteurs stated that, “It is not right or fair to try everyone in mass proceedings, and that such unfair trial should not send someone to the gallows. Imposition of mass death sentences is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. This Covenant limits the circumstances in which a state can impose the death sentence.”

The five special rapporteurs are: Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Juan Méndez, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Mads Andenas, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism.

According to SERAP, the courts-martial held in secret were “a mockery of justice” and ignored issues raised by the condemned men that “suggest lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies” in the handling of the security budget and arms purchases.

The petition copied to Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also stated that, “Under international law, cases involving capital punishment such as the present one require the full and scrupulous respect of the guarantees of highest standards of fairness, due process and justice.”

“All human rights depend for their enjoyment the right to life, which is the most fundamental of all rights. The right to life symbolizes everything that the United Nations works and stands for, be it in the area of peace and security, development or human rights.

To reject the act of irreversibly taking someone’s life is to embrace belief in human progress and dignity,” SERAP also argued.

According to the organisation, “The imposition of mass death sentences is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights. The UN General Assembly to which Nigeria becomes has called for a worldwide moratorium on execution.

Military Cautious Of Civilian Casualties In Communities Reclaiming Operations

ArmySome communities in Nigeria’s north-east are yet to be re-captured from the insurgents because the military wants to reduce civilian casualties during the operations, a military official has said.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye, told journalists in Abuja on Wednesday that the army was carefully planning strategies to adopt in other to reclaim the territories from the terrorists.

At the press conference, Mr Olaleye also attributed the successes the Nigerian Army had recorded in the on-going counter terrorism operations in the north-east to strict enforcement of service regulations.

He said that the regulations had resulted in the court martialing of over 200 soldiers in the last three months alone.

Some of the soldiers have been sentence to death for different offences.

In the last court martial that was held about a week ago in Abuja, the court delivered its verdict in the case of conspiracy to commit mutiny and incitement of mutiny involving five soldiers.

LCPL Sule Ochehepo was discharged and acquitted, while LCPL Bankole Taiwo, LCPL Bankole Olawale, LCPL Isaiah Olofu and PTE Adebayo Gbenga were convicted and sentenced to death.

The allegation against the soldiers was that they asked “inciting questions” from their Commanding Officer of 81 Battalion when he addressed them on September 14, 2013.

The questions pertained to the corpses of some of their colleagues brought to the camp after they were killed by members of a terrorist group, Boko Haram, due to lack of weapons.

Meanwhile, a rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a group of five United Nations human rights independent experts to individually and jointly request that the mass death sentences imposed on 54 Nigerian soldiers found guilty of mutiny should not be carried out.

The Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a petition to the rights group, said it was not right or fair to try everyone in mass proceedings, and that such unfair trial should not send someone to the gallows.

He asked the group to make the request to the Nigerian government and the military.

Mr Mumuni emphasised that imposition of mass death sentences was in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria was a party.

“This Covenant limits the circumstances in which a state can impose the death sentence,” he said.

Another Batch Of Soldiers Sentenced To Death By Court Martial

court martial The court martial sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday night, delivered its verdict in the case of conspiracy to commit mutiny and incitement of mutiny involving 5 soldiers.

LCPL Sule Ochehepo was discharged and acquitted, while LCPL Bankole Taiwo, LCPL Bankole Olawale, LCPL Isaiah Olofu and PTE Adebayo Gbenga were convicted and sentenced to death.

The allegation against the soldiers was that they asked “inciting questions” from their Commanding Officer of 81 Battalion when he addressed them on September 14, 2013.

The questions pertained to the corpses of some of their colleagues brought to the camp after they were killed by the Boko Haram terrorists due to lack of weapons.

The charge of mutiny was that the 5 soldiers “incited soldiers of 81 Bn to mutiny against the authority of 7 Division of Nigerian Army”.

They pleaded double jeopardy that they had been tried summarily by their Commanding Officer, convicted and sentenced and that they had served the punishment.

The record of proceedings of the earlier trial was tendered and admitted in evidence by the court martial but the court martial headed by Brig-General M.S Yusuf did not consider the defence of the soldiers.

Altogether, 71 soldiers have been sentenced to death for protesting against the non-payment of salaries and allowances and failure of the authorities to provide equipment to confront the well-equipped Boko Haram troops.

Hundreds of other soldiers are currently awaiting trial in Abuja, Jos and Lagos for mutiny, negligence and cowardice and allied offences.

They are due to be arraigned after the Christmas vacation.

SERAP Asks UN Rights Experts To Halt Execution Of 54 Soldiers

MutinySocio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a group of five United Nations human rights independent experts to individually and jointly request that the mass death sentences imposed on 54 Nigerian soldiers found guilty of mutiny should not be carried out.

The Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a petition to the rights group, said it was not right or fair to try everyone in mass proceedings, and that such unfair trial should not send someone to the gallows.

He asked the group to make the request to the Nigerian government and the military.

Mr Mumuni emphasised that imposition of mass death sentences was in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria was a party.

“This Covenant limits the circumstances in which a state can impose the death sentence,” he said.

The five special rapporteurs are: Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez; Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff; Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mads Andenas and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson.

End Death Penalty

To the rights experts, SERAP said: “You have consistently and jointly taken similar actions in the past including with respect to Egypt, and we respectfully urge you to follow this path in the instance case to continue your record of working to end the death penalty in all countries”.

The petition, dated 23 December 2014 and copied to Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also stated that, “under international law, cases involving capital punishment, such as the present one, require the full and scrupulous respect of the guarantees of highest standards of fairness, due process and justice.

“All human rights depend for their enjoyment the right to life, which is the most fundamental of all rights.  The right to life symbolizes everything that the United Nations works and stands for, be it in the area of peace and security, development or human rights. To reject the act of irreversibly taking someone’s life is to embrace belief in human progress and dignity”.

SERAP also argued that “the imposition of mass death sentences is unjust and incompatible with fundamental human rights. The UN General Assembly to which Nigeria is a member has called for a worldwide moratorium on execution.  In fact, the Special Rapporteurs have pointed out that the right to life is a fundamental right, not a toy to be played with. If the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have not abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards”.

The organisation further stated that, “the UN has also acknowledged the discriminatory and arbitrary nature of judicial processes and the danger of the death penalty being used as a tool of repression”.

It has documented evidence to show that the death penalty is no deterrent, stressing that “depriving a human person of his or her life is incompatible with the trend in the twenty-first century”.

“The issues raised by the soldiers suggest lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies in the way the security budget and arms purchases are decided and controlled,” the organisation also stated.

Publicly Express Concerns

In the organisation’s requests to the Special Rapporteurs are for; the group to individually and jointly to Publicly express concerns about the mass imposition of death sentences on the soldiers; publicly express concerns about the lack of clarity of the charges under which each of the soldiers was sentenced to death; urgently request the Nigerian government and its military authorities to quash the 54 death sentences imposed on the 54 soldiers for failing to meet even the basic requirements of fair trials and to declare that the imposition of mass death sentences on the soldiers made a mockery of justice.

The Special Rapporteurs were also asked to continue to follow closely the situation and remind the Nigerian authorities of the need for the Nigerian society to be based on justice, and full respect of human rights, request the Nigerian authorities to exercise their legal authority to commute the death sentences and pardon the 54 soldiers and request the Nigerian authorities to impose moratoriums on executions and pave the way for the full abolition of the death penalty.

On Wednesday, December 17, 2014, the Nigerian Army’s 7 division General Court Martial convicted 54 soldiers for conspiracy to commit mutiny and sentenced them to death by firing squad.

The facts of the case indicated that the soldiers, from the 111 Special Forces, were charged for disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Opurum, to take part in an operation to recapture Delwa, Bulabulin and Damboa in Borno State from Boko Haram terrorists on August 4.

The United Nations human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

Mutiny: Court Martial Verdict Was Right – Lawyer

MutinyLegal Practitioner, George Ekeh, has disagreed with the view that the Nigerian soldiers recently sentenced to death for Mutiny by a court martial were wrongly tried.

This was in reaction to veteran Lawyer, Femi Falana, who, in an earlier interview, had expressed the opinion that the soldiers, under the Armed Forces Act, should have been tried under Section 52:2.

Ekeh argued that the soldiers were rightly charged under the right section of the constitution – Section 52:1 – which he read during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He noted that Mutiny has always been a grave offence in the military and these soldiers had been aware of it from the moment they were recruited.

He also took on the insinuations that some of the officers that made up the military court were not legal practitioners and their  judgement could be faulty.

Ekeh emphasized this as an erroneous assumption, stating that many of the officers were qualified lawyers.

He made reference to the recently held Nigerian Bar Association, NBA conference in Owerri, which he said had about 5% of participants attending in the military uniforms.

Ekeh also dismissed the view that the soldiers had feeble representation which might have worked against them. He argued that the most important thing was that the lawyer stood up to plead for mercy on their behalf.

He noted that the court was also working based on evidences and all available evidences must have pointed against the soldiers, a situation which meant that the case was already a bad one.

A Channels Television viewer, however, suggested via social media that Nigeria needs more of its soldiers alive as it battles insurgency and this view Ekeh shared.

Although he maintained that the death sentence was the rightful judgement, he conceded that because of the circumstances of Nigeria being in a state of war, the soldiers could be pardoned.

Nigerian Army Denies Report Of Mutiny In Maimalari Barracks

Nigerian soldiers gather during preparations for their deployment to Mali, at the army's peacekeeping centre in NigeriaDirector, Defence Information in the Army, Major-General Chris Olukolade, in a press statement on Friday said “the online report titled ‘Second Mutiny in Maimalari Barracks as Soldiers Manhandled Commander’ is not true.”

The Nigerian Military has been under fire in recent times for a seeming incapability to bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end.

A media platform online had reported a case of mutiny in Maimalari Barracks, but according to Olukolade, “what the online outlet garnished and dubbed as ‘mutiny’ was just a presentation of complaints by representatives of personnel families who wanted the ban on motorcycles as a means of public transportation in the barracks reversed.”

The statement further read that “soldiers were not involved and there was no single shot fired by soldiers throughout the period as claimed in the report.”

The Major-General explained that the ban was part of security measures put in place for the safety of the soldiers and their families.  “The Acting General Officer Commanding obliged their request and directed a suspension of the ban pending when the planned alternative transportation arrangement is put in place.  He was not insulted or manhandled as reported.”

“The imputation of mutiny was concocted by the online medium ostensibly to raise false alarm and create the impression of disquiet in the military.  It is very obvious that a section of the media is feasting on the current security challenges and is desperate to sustain the tempo of the crisis through sensational reportage.  Mutiny is a very grievous breach that attracts severe sanctions in the military and should not be trivialized by those who do not understand its ramifications.”

“The general public is therefore requested to discountenance the rumours as no such incident took place. The mass media is again requested to beware of lifting stories on the military from online media as this has become the main channel of disseminating falsehood on happenings in the system.”

“In another development, cordon and search exercise has led to the discovery of Rocket Launcher production facility at Dorayi District in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano State.  The discovery follows the arrest of a prominent member of the terrorists group.  Locally made Anti-Aircraft Gun and Mortar accessories as well as Rocket Propelled Grenade tubes and Launcher along with accessories were recovered.  Also seized were three AK47 rifles and hundreds of rounds of assorted ammunition, as well as drilling machines and other fabricating equipment.”

The Army has now urged the general public to report suspicious persons to security agencies in their localities to prevent unwholesome act by terrorists.

 

 

Boko Haram’s Expiry Date Is Near – Chima Nnaji

Chima NnajiA public affairs analyst and lawyer, Chima Nnaji, on Thursday predicted that the end of the Boko Haram insurgency is near, while airing his views on the activities of the group as well as the conspiracy theories surrounding it.

“There’s nothing hidden under the sun and it’s only a matter of time because everything under the sun has expiry date and that date will come and it is very near. When the wound is about to heal, the scratching increases” he said concerning the activities of the terrorists and their sponsors.

The group recently gained global attention following the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State which seems to be the biggest hit by the insurgents in the entire country.

However, the arrest of one of the Nyanya bomb blast suspects 48 hours after he was declared wanted was described as a commendable feat by the analyst.

“This is one of the results of collaboration and it’s a good development,” he said, adding that “no one single group or body can achieve much result all alone,” he said, while stressing the importance of team work in the fight against terrorism.

On reports that soldiers of the 7th Division attacked a vehicle carrying their General Officer Commander (GOC), Nnaji said it was not the first time related cases would he heard, making reference to an officer who was allegedly a member of the cultist group, Omabatse, responsible for the death of several policemen.

“This is a very trying time because it’s a war without front. You don’t know who you are fighting. People are shouting Boko Haram, but there might be one Haram Boko in the system doing a reverse function of what the State is about to do,” he said.

He noted that the #BringBackOurGirls campaign was a “task that must be done” but maintained that the aggression was displaced. “The President did not cause the kidnap,” he said, adding that the Boko Haram insurgency was engineered by ‘some people.’

Nnaji further corroborated the conspiracy theories which blamed government opposition for staging the insurgency which has spiraled out of control.

He insisted that those directly affected by the terrorists activities, the North East region, are not as agitated or pro-active in the rescue mission as protesters in other parts of the country.