Law News
Mutiny: Convicted soldiers appeal to COAS

The 12 soldiers convicted for mutiny in September, have appealed to the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, to disapprove the death sentence passed on them on the ground that the judgement of the General Court Martial was characterised with grave errors of law which occasioned miscarriage of justice.

The soldiers argued that the verdict cannot be justified in law and urged the confirming authority to set aside the conviction and the death sentence passed on them as they are entitled to the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

The petition was filed on their behalf by Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, pursuant to Section 149(1) of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,2004.

The soldiers during thier mutiny tral

Those convicted by the Court Martial on September 15, 2014, in Abuja are Corporal Jasper Braidolor with No: 96NA/ 42/6235, Corporal David Musa, 96NA/ 43/10277; Lance Corporal Friday Onu, 05NA/ 57/3451; Lance Corporal Yusuf Shuaibu, 09NA/ 64/ 4905; Lance Corporal Igomu Emmanuel, 09NA/62/ 1648 and Private Andrew Ngbede, 09NA/ 64/ 4214.

Others are Private Nurudeen Ahmed,10NA/ 65/ 8344 ; Private Ifeanyi Alukhagba, 10NA/ 65/ 7084;Private Alao Samuel, 10NA/ 69/ 2898;Private Amadi Chukwudi,13NA/ 69/ 2907 ;Private Alan Linus,13NA/69/2898 and Lance Corporal Stephen Clement, 03NA/ 53/ 816.

To justify the appeal, Falana drew the attention of the military authorities in Nigeria to the case of Oladele v. Nigerian Army, where the Court of Appeal held that members of the armed forces, like other citizens, are entitled to all the fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Falana argued that “by this petition, we appeal to the Chief of Army Staff as the confirming authority to disapprove the finding of guilt and death sentence passed on the 12 convicted soldiers on the ground that the judgement of the General Court-Martial cannot be justified as it is characterized by grave errors of law whichoccasioned miscarriage of justice.

Falana contended that it was clear that the authorities investigated the immediate and remote causes of the soldiers’ protest and confirmed that the complaints of the soldiers were not unfounded.

He said: “Upon indicting Major General Ahmed Mohammed for not attending to the grievances of the aggrieved soldiers he was removed as GOC and retired from the Nigerian Army by the military high command.

“With respect to the soldiers’ complaints of lack of adequate equipment to fight the Boko Haram troops who are armed with sophisticated weapons, the National Assembly has recently approved the request of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Goodluck Jonathan, for $1 billion loan to purchase military hardware for the purpose of prosecuting the war on terror.”

Falana submitted that from the facts of this case, the protest staged by the convicts and other soldiers at the Maimalari Cantonment was not connected with “operations against the enemy.

He added: “On the contrary, the soldiers were protesting against the negligence of the Federal Government and the military authorities to motivate and equip them to take part in the operations against the enemy.

“Soldiers who were demanding weapons to fight the satanic Boko Haram troops cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be said to have committed the offence of mutiny.”

He therefore urged the Confirming Authority to temper justice with mercy by granting the convicts full pardon.

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