Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:17 am
Nigerian Army sentences 12 of its men to death over mutiny in a move believed to be aimed at enforcing discipline among the troops. But analysts insist that the root causes of the revolt of the condemned men must be properly addressed for Nigeria to win the war against terror
Even as the Nigerian armed forces continue the struggle to contain the Boko Haram insurgency, the sentencing of 12 soldiers to death for mutiny by a military court martial in the early hours of last Tuesday is epochal in the battle to defeat the terrorists. Aside the issue of the constitutionality or otherwise of the death sentence being raised by lawyers, there is the question of the effect the judgment would have on colleagues of the condemned soldiers currently occupied with the arduous task of halting attempts by the terrorists to create a caliphate out of Nigeria. This is even more so when it is considered that at the root of the alleged mutiny for which the 12 soldiers have been condemned to face the firing squad were the still unending complaints of poor equipment, poor welfare and corruption blamed for the prolonged inability to defeat Boko Haram.
The soldiers, serving in the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, Borno State, specially created to battle the Boko Haram insurgents, had run into problems on 14 May when they fired shots at the convoy conveying their General Officer Commanding, Major General Ahmed Mohammmed, as it tried to enter their cantonment. Though the GOC escaped unhurt due to the ability of his driver to dexterously steer his vehicle away from the angry soldiers, some of his bodyguards were not lucky and suffered gunshot wounds. The immediate reason for the anger of the soldiers, reports had indicated, was the death of scores of their colleagues in an ambush the previous night. Indeed, it was learnt that the arrival of the GOC to the barrack coincided with the arrival of the corpses of the soldiers killed in the ambush. The soldiers were allegedly angry because they thought they could have avoided the Boko Haram ambush and consequently, the deaths of their colleagues, if the GOC had not asked the troops to return overnight from their area of operation. The troops also suspected that the directive to return overnight followed a pattern in which they were being deliberately led to die through wrong tactical orders dished out by officers who they believed are not committed to the war against terror for some sentimental reasons.