June 4, 2015 – Death Sentence Suspended For 54 Nigerian Soldiers Convicted For Mutiny
Unsure of their fate, 54 soldiers sentenced to death for mutiny by the General Martial Court in December last year have applied to the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order restraining the military authorities from executing them.
The soldiers, who are of the ranks of Private, Lance Corporal, and Corporal were attached to the 111 Special Forces Battalion, Maiduguri, Borno State were among those convicted last year by the General Court Martial headed by Brigadier General. Musa Yusuf.
They stated in their suit that the military high command could consent to their execution any moment despite the military’s alleged non-compliance with prescribed procedures.
In an application by their lawyer, Falana, the convicted soldiers, are of the view that it was illegal for the army authorities to go ahead with their execution when the findings of the General Court Martial had not been promulgated.
They also argued, among other grounds, that until the confirmation or review of the findings of the court martial by the army authorities, the hearing and the determination of their appeal against the sentence, and the approval of the judgment by the President, the army cannot execute them.
The soldiers hinged their prayers in the suit on provisions of Section 36 (7) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sections 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 164 175(3), and 192 of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation 2004. Defendants in the suits include the Chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army.
The plaintiffs averred, in their supporting affidavit, that “the defendants may carry out the death sentence passed on the Plaintiffs any moment from now. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not approved the death sentence passed on the plaintiffs.
“As the defendants have not forwarded the record of proceedings to the President he has not been able to consider the request of the Plaintiffs for remission of the death sentence on the plaintiffs.”
They stated that after their trial at Mogadishu Barracks, Abuja, the soldiers were transferred to the Counter Intelligence Command, Detention Centre, Apapa, Lagos, and their relatives have since been denied access to them.
The soldiers are also seeking separate orders directing army authorities to allow their relatives to visit them in prison and also for the release of a copy of the judgment to them.
They seek among others: “A declaration that the failure or refusal of the Defendants to confirm or review the conviction and death sentences passed on the plaintiffs by the Court Martial on December, 24, 2014 is illegal and unconstitutional by virtue of Sections 148, 149, 150 and 151 of the Armed Forces Act.
*An order suspending the execution of the death sentences passed on the plaintiffs on December 24, 2014 pending the determination of the appeal which they intend to file against the findings and sentence of the Court-Martial.
[Source: National Mirror]