Nigeria News
Mutiny: TUC Faults Senate’s Position on Condemned Soldiers
Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Thompson Sekibo

Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Thompson Sekibo

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) yesterday faulted the decision by the Senate not to intervene in the case of the 12 soldiers who were recently convicted for mutiny and sentenced to death by a military tribunal.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Senator Thompson Sekibo, had on Tuesday disclosed that the Senate would not intervene in the case of the convicted soldiers because the penalty is as prescribed in the Military Act and must be carried out to maintain discipline.

In its reaction, the congress condemned the position of the Senate, arguing that the circumstances that prompted the soldiers’ alleged mutinous act are weighty enough to serve as mitigating factors in the consideration of any punishment to be meted out to them.

The congress, in a statement jointly issued by its President and Secretary, Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal respectively, emphasised that any contrary view on the case would amount to “nothing but sheer wickedness and a clear example of man’s insensitivity and inhumanity to man.”

According to the congress, it was bad enough that the military tribunal issued such a sentence against ill-equipped gallant soldiers who battled the sect with unequalled bravery, but worse and totally bewildering that Sekibo declared that the Senate would not intervene because the penalty is as prescribed in the Military Act and must be carried out to maintain discipline.

“We ordinarily might have agreed with the senator if the soldiers’ mutinous acts and refusal to fight had been informed by cowardice, but the undisputed evidence adduced and reported show that they are all brave, willing combatants who only requested that they be sufficiently equipped for the task at hand and protested the avoidable death of their buddies because of the negligence, recalcitrance and misjudgement of their commanding officer,” the congress stated.

Rather than carry out that callous death sentence, the congress called on the military to investigate properly the case at hand and proffer lasting solution to the challenges confronting Nigerian soldiers in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents.

It insisted that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) who denied the boys the appropriate weapons should be court-marshalled for indiscipline.

Speaking further, the congress warned that the death sentence, if executed, could demoralise the rank and file of the soldiers, stressing that if the soldiers must be punished, a sentence of no more than two years imprisonment should suffice.
Thus, it called on the Defence Headquarters to review the tribunal’s decision in favour of the convicted soldiers.

The labour group equally called on President Goodluck Jonathan to step in and exercise his prerogative of mercy by pardoning the convicted soldiers, stressing that no military official should be punished for “protesting or refusing to do a job for which his master denied him necessary tools.

“To the best of our knowledge, the soldiers’ grievances stemmed from the fact that the military top brass failed to adequately equip them with the right quality and quantity of weapons, ammunitions and other equipment for the war against the Boko Haram insurgents that they we re ordered to fight. Worse still, the insurgents were equipped with superior, up-to-date fire power and other tools of war, a factor which had helped them to vanquish many a soldier including several colleagues of the convicted ones.

“In the light of the foregoing, how could anyone have possibly expected the convicted soldiers to obey such an order? Does enlisting into any of the armed forces automatically translate to a reckless loss of one’s life and good sense of judgment? Or is it in the national interest for our soldiers to be needlessly suicidal? Is discretion no longer the better part of valour? Were they wrong to have insisted that their commanding officer (and the rest of the military leadership) furnish them with the pre-requisites for prosecuting the war?  We dare say no,” the statement added.

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