Law News
Falana raises the alarm over sacking of 290 soldiers

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Thursday raised the alarm over the sacking of a total of 290 soldiers by the Nigerian Army.

Falana said in a statement that ‎the letter of dismissal were distributed to the affected soldiers in Jos, Plateau State, and Ibadan, Oyo State, on Wednesday.

‎He said the soldier were sacked for charges of cowardice and failure to fight Boko Haram sect without trial before any court martial as stipulated in the Armed Forces Act.

He said the recent sacking of the 290 soldiers who were merely subjected to orderly room trial where they all pleaded not ‎guilty to the charges levelled against him, was similar to the circumstances under which a batch of 200 soldiers were sacked in December 2014.

‎The senior advocate said, “I have just confirmed that a total of 290 soldiers were dismissed yesterday by the Authorities of the Nigerian Army.

“The letters of dismissal were distributed in Jos, Plateau State and Ibadan, Oyo state. Before the dismissal, the soldiers were subjected to orderly room trial.

“Even though they pleaded not guilty to the charges of cowardice and failure to fight the Boko Haram sect, the dismissed soldiers were not tried by any court-martial in line with the provisions of the Armed Forces Act.

“It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army also sacked another batch of 200 soldiers in similar circumstances in December last year (2014).”

He added that the punishment meted out to the soldiers could not be justified in the light of Federal Government’s failure to equip the armed forces during the period the dismissed soldiers allegedly committed the offences.

‎He asked the army authorities to reverse the sacking as it was done in breach of the fundamental right of the soldiers to fair hearing.

Falana suggested that if the sacked soldiers could not be re-absorbed, the army authority should rehabilitate them so that they were not driven to criminality after they had received military training at the expense of the nation.

He said, “Apart from the deliberate refusal of the military authorities to respect the fundamental right of the dismissed soldiers to fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, the punishment meted out to them cannot be justified since the Federal Government failed to equip the armed forces at the material time.

“Indeed, the belated onslaught launched against the Boko Haram sect by the Nigerian Army has been attributed to the military hardware recently acquired by the Government.

“As the soldiers are ill-equipped to handle the weapons, the military authorities have admitted that ‘military instructors’ have been engaged from South Africa to train them.

“In the light of the foregoing, the Authorities of the Nigerian Army should annul the illegal letters and recall the dismissed soldiers without any delay. In the alternative, a programme should be designed for the rehabilitation of the dismissed soldiers.

“Otherwise, many of them may be driven to criminality since they had been given military training at the expense of the nation.”‎

 

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