AFRICANGLOBE – At least 54 Nigerian soldiers have been sentenced to death after being found guilty of attempted mutiny, an offence that attracts the death penalty in the military.
Brigadier-General Mohammed Yusuf, president of a court martial that was inaugurated in October, found the soldiers guilty on two-count charge of “criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny and mutiny.”
Four other soldiers were found not guilty of the charges and were thereby acquitted in a ruling that was being read on Wednesday night in Nigerian capital Abuja.
The sentence is the second this year alone – both relating to the ongoing military operations in the insurgency-wracked northeastern region.
Army captain J.E Nwosu, the prosecutor, said the convicts committed the offence on August 4 in Maiduguri after they refused orders to deploy for an operation intended to recapture towns taken by Boko Haram terrorists.
The towns, according to the charge sheets before the court martial, included Damboa, Bulabulin and Delwa.
The soldiers, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges, can appeal the ruling.
Army authorities on October 2 began the court martial to try 97 soldiers – 15 officers and 82 enlisted men.
Mutiny is a serious offence in the military, typically carrying a lengthy jail term or the death penalty.
Allegations of soldiers fleeing the battlefield or selling intelligence to insurgents continue to dog military operations in the area, although army commanders play down these claims.
Boko Haram has embraced violent methods since the 2009 killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, while in police custody.
More than 13,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the insurgency began in 2009.
Boko Haram has been outlawed in Nigeria, Turkey and the Units States.