Boko Haram: Army colonel convicted for mutiny •Court martial also demotes commander

Posted by News Express | 1 September 2014 | 4,190 times

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A serving Lieutenant-Colonel in the Nigerian Army has become the first casualty in the fight against Boko Haram.

The court martial set up by the Army to try some officers for offences committed while on internal security operations in the North-East has sentenced him to one year in prison.

Similarly, another officer who served as a commander of one of the battalions in the Boko Haram’s hotbed has been demoted in rank.

The jailed Lt.-Col. has concluded arrangements to appeal.

The court martial which sat in Kaduna, has since concluded the trial of officers in the 1 Division accused of sabotaging the anti-terrorism war.

Meanwhile, it is also set to sit in 3 Division Jos to try an undisclosed number of officers for offences committed in the fight against insurgency. This is coming just as the court martial will soon try 18 soldiers for mutiny at the 7 Division of the Army in Maiduguri, Borno State. The court marshal resumes today.

The court was forced to go on one week recess to allow lawyers appearing to attend this year’s conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

In an attempt to stop what it described as the “high rate of indiscipline”, by soldiers and lukewarm attitude by some officers in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, the Nigerian Army had in June constituted a General Court Martial (GCM), to try erring personnel for offences committed in battle.

The offences, committed mostly by army personnel on operation in the North-East, ranged from abandoning of military equipment and indiscipline.

However, while some of the officers facing the court martial had genuine cases, others did not. Some of the suspects who had genuine cases could not convince the court because their lawyers are mostly civilian. Sources say getting a military lawyer who has the necessary knowledge about military laws, remains the best option for officers to defend them during court martial.

Top army sources said the rate of indiscipline was becoming worrisome to the authorities as they are daily bombarded with phone calls from highly placed individuals on happenings and demands by soldiers.

A total of 18 soldiers were arrested as being the masterminds of the crisis that rocked the 7 Division of the Army in Maiduguri on May 14, 2014.

The soldiers, upon their arrest, were disarmed after the investigating team set up by the Army Headquarters found them culpable of the offence. They were flown to Abuja and kept in the guardroom in one of the barracks. Similarly, the officers found guilty, were also arrested from their locations and flown to Abuja and locked in the Officers Mess from where they were transported to Kaduna to face the GCM.

•Excerpted from a Daily Sun report. Photo shows Defence Spokesman, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade.

Source: News Express

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