AFRICANGLOBE – Tuesday’s death sentence passed on 12 soldiers by the Nigerian Army court martial after their conviction for mutiny and attempted murder was not only a “special gift to Boko Haram” but also “the surest means of demolising the rank and file of the Nigerian soldiers,” the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said.
Opposing the judgment of a military court, TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, and Secretary General, Musa Lawal, said in a statement yesterday: “Our position is that the Federal Government and the military leadership should look into the grievances of soldiers, especially now. We say no to death sentence because we cannot afford to lose more soldiers.”
However, the union commended the military for its efforts to maintain the discipline it is noted for, as exemplified in the military court that sat in Abuja on Monday, which found 13 of the 18 accused soldiers guilty.
And while soldiers tidy their house against their current domestic enemy, the terrorists group, Boko Haram, has resorted to cattle rustling “to feed and probably finance” its activities in the North East, having stolen over 500 cows from three villages in Gujba local council area of Yobe State as at last weekend.
The TUC said that apart from bringing to the fore the constitutional role and code of conduct of “our military, it will further check the excesses of some security operatives who betray their oath of allegiance to the country through sabotage.”
Nevertheless, it insisted: “In as much as congress will not encourage revolt or disobedience to military authority, we will also not fail to reject and condemn the death sentence passed by the General Court Martial on 12 soldiers protesting against the internal sabotage of the military in the ongoing war against the Boko Haram sect.
“We wonder why and how such a protest against sabotage could suddenly be termed ‘criminal conspiracy, mutiny, attempt to commit murder (shooting of the vehicle of the GOC), insubordination to a particular order’, and false accusation by the President of the Court Martial, Maj.-Gen. C.C. Okonkwo.
“To us, the issues are clearly more, and the congress makes bold to say that the approach adopted on the issue that is already at the public domain is very incorrect.
“We reiterate that we abhor the temperamental response of the tried soldiers to the needless loss of lives of their colleagues due to needless orders from above, and do urge the military to put its house in order and fish out all the Boko Haram apologists within its ranks.
“It will be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had earlier said there were Boko Haram members in his cabinet. Also, we recall that the Borno State Government had cried out that the sect had more sophisticated weapons than our military.
“If that is the case, it means that members of the sect are everywhere, including the military. We would not want to mention names but the dailies have it that there were senior military officers who, before the Boko Haram crisis, were poor but have now suddenly become billionaires while the innocent rank and file of the military is killed by the sect due to their superior weapons.
By: Yetunde Ebosele and Njadvara Musa