The Nigerian Army has postponed the trial of 60 soldiers accused of mutiny till Thursday, just as the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, urged the the military to consider the merit of their defence and equip the military personnel with modern weapons that would motivated them for better results.
The 60 soldiers were to be arraigned on Tuesday before the General Court Martial at the Mogadishu Cantonment, Abuja.
The postponement of the trial was confirmed to newsmen on by a military source, who did not want to be named as the spokesman of the garrison, Aliyu Yusuf, a colonel, claimed ignorance of the court martial but promised to inform journalists, whenever a date was fixed for the trial.
The accused soldiers, comprising two corporals, nine lance corporals and 49 privates, were alleged to have committed mutiny on August 4, 2014 when they refused to join troops in Maiduguri for “an operation” led by Col. E.A. Aladeniyi to Maimalari Barracks.
However, CACOL has said that the military needs to deal with corruption and other factors that could lead to a situation where soldiers disobey orders from superiors.
“It must be sounded that except the Nigerian Government addresses the pervasive corruption that has percolated its facets including its Army, we might not have soldiers in the next few years to come,” said the executive chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran.
The group raised the following fundamental questions: why are the soldiers disobeying orders? Why have they neglected their responsibilities and commitments to their country to commit mutiny?
CACOL said it is surprising to note that all the trials, convictions, jail and death sentences have not deterred the soldiers from disobeying orders from their superiors.
“This alone is enough to tell any right-thinking person that something seems to be wrong, which the death sentences seem not to be able to put in check. To be factual, the government has been pushing our soldiers to the war front with obsolete arms and ammunitions to face the insurgents who are better equipped, trained, better indoctrinated and far better motivated,” the group said.
It pointed out that these soldiers were not conscripted but rather joined the armed forces out of free will but added that ” it does not mean that these soldiers should be forced to commit suicide in the name of obeying order.”
“There have been series of complaints even from these soldiers, that they are poorly-equipped and yet the commanding authority has done little or nothing to address this situation. We have even had cases where their wives protested that their husbands should not be sent to the North-Eastern part of the country without requisite equipment, motivation and training to face the superior fire-power of the insurgents,” it stated.
It would be recalled that 12 Nigerian soldiers had earlier been sentenced to death by hanging by a military court-martial after they were found guilty of committing mutiny in Maiduguri, Borno State last May.
The soldiers were said to have fired shots at Maj-Gen Ahmadu Mohammed, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 7th Division, at the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri.
The soldiers became angry when they saw the bodies of 12 of their colleagues being brought back from Chibok, where they were killed in a Boko Haram ambush.