|Femi Falana, SAN|
Fifty-four soldiers of the Nigerian Army who were convicted last year December by a court-martial have challenged the death sentence passed on them before a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja.
In the suit No: FHC/Abj/CS/484/15, the soldiers comprising 45 private soldiers, two corporals and eight lance corporals filed an originating summons through their lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, asking the court to stop the military from carrying out the judgement of the court martial.
Defendants in the case are the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army staff, Kenneth Minimah.
The soldiers, in their summons, queried the refusal of the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army to make public, the findings of the general court marital as required by law, while it as illegal.
They also prayed the court to determine whether the refusal of the defendants to either confirm or review the death sentence, or make a copy of the judgement delivered by the court martial available, is legal.
Besides, they want the court to determine whether the death sentence passed on them can be carried out in spite of their case pending before the appeal against the conviction and sentence which the accused intend to file at the appellate court.
The soldiers also sought to determine whether the death sentence can be carried out without an approval or a prerogative of mercy from the president, and whether it is legal to deprive them of visits from their lawyers and family members.
To this end, they prayed the court to declare that they are entitled to visitation from their lawyers and family members as well as a review of the judgement.
They further requested that the conviction and the death sentence should not be carried out pending the determination of an appeal by the appellate court and an approval or a prerogative mercy from the President.
They also asked the court to suspend the execution of the judgement, direct the military to make the findings of the court martial public and direct the Army Chief and the Nigerian Army to permit their family members and lawyers to visit them.