Saturday, October 18, 2014

Acquittal . . . then what?

In the controversial mutiny court-martial that produced 12 death sentences last month, five other Nigerian soldiers were acquitted and one received a 28-day sentence that has been fully served. This article reports that the Army has still not reassigned them:
THISDAY investigations revealed that the six soldiers are currently roaming about at the Nigerian Army Garrison Command Headquarters at Mogadishu Military Cantonment, the venue of their court martial without any definite role or assignment.
“This is how the situation has been since then as they have not been posted anywhere yet that is why you can still see some of them.
“We are still waiting to hear from the Nigerian Army Headquarters and what would be done to them and where they might be reposted or what will be their new duties”, the source said.
“The fact still remains that they have been discharged and acquitted by the General Court-Martial (GCM) and the sixth persons must have finished the mandatory 28 days with hard labour but we don’t know for sure what their future roles will be,” the source noted, adding that “everything is still being decided and processed at the Army  Headquarters.”
The Daily Independent has run this summary of the continuing controversy over whether the death sentences should be approved. Of particular note, the service chiefs, who must function on the sentences, have met behind closed doors with the Nigerian Senate's Committee on Defence.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, George Sekibo, after a closed-door meeting with Service Chiefs, including the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, said the Senate was not under pressure to intervene to save the lives of the soldiers, because the judgment convicting them was in the best interest of the Nigerian military.
In Sekibo's words, "No, we are not under pressure, because, the Armed Forces was established by an Act of the National Assembly. The Act spelt out categorically the conduct of soldiers and the way they are to behave wherever they are. If you join the military that Act is to guide you and your conduct.
"If you go contrary to any of the prescribed sections of the Act, the punishment prescribed for the Act you violated will come on you. So, the military did not just wake up one day and say that they are going to kill Mr. A or Mr. B. They (military) went through the necessary processes and they found them guilty".
Sekibo was quick to add that the soldiers could appeal the verdict, however, insisting that what the military has done was in line to instill discipline in the Armed Forces.
Editor's note: It is disturbing that a court-martial case that is under active mandatory review should be the subject of secret discussions of any kind between legislators and those who much rule on whether to approve the adjudged sentence. 

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