A court-martial sitting at the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, has tried and convicted several erring personnel, with some of them being sentenced to death and others to various jail terms, including life imprisonment.
JA Agim, an acting director of defence information, disclosed this during a press briefing held on Friday, June 1, 2018, in Maiduguri in response to the recent Amnesty International Report alleging wide-ranging human rights abuse by military personnel, especially at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps.
The court, Brig.-Gen. Agim said, has tried and sentenced some service personnel found guilty of various offences in a bid to deter others. Some of these verdicts are as follows:
a. A soldier who shot and killed 5 rescued civilians without just cause was tried for the offence of murder. At the end of the trial he was found guilty, convicted and sentenced to death.
b. Another soldier maltreated a minor whom he suspected of stealing his money, as a result of which the minor had his right arm amputated. The soldier was tried for causing grievous body injury, found guilty, convicted and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and dismissal from the service.
c. While on deployment at one of the FOBs, a soldier lured a minor girl and defiled her in the process. The soldier was arraigned for defilement of a minor and he was sentenced to dismissal from service with ignominy and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
d. A soldier was arraigned for shooting and killing an innocent civilian at Konduga without just course. The soldier was convicted for murder and sentenced to death.
e. A certain boy in one of the areas where the military are deployed was suspected of stealing soldier’s handset upon which 2 soldiers tortured him to death the soldiers were arraigned for the offence of murder but the court found them guilty for manslaughter. They were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Dismissing the Amnesty report, Brig.-Gen. Agim said: “We must clearly point out here, that the Military has zero tolerance for indiscipline and in addition assures members of the public that it will not treat any report of rape or any other form of gender-based violence with levity if such report is made.
“For the Military particularly On Gender Based violence, rape is an outright aberration. It is considered grievous and cannot go unpunished. However, blanket allegations and insinuations as contained in the Amnesty International report as alleged against the Armed Forces of Nigeria are rather very ineffective methodologies to address this ill. It is therefore high time we address this issue squarely, rather than resorting to blanket allegations. In the Armed Forces, we maintain that we do not condone rape and do not have rapists among us. The Military has several measures in place to regulate the conduct of troops and to define their relationships with members of their host communities.
“Furthermore, before troops are deployed in the frontlines, they are made to undergo mandatory Pre-Induction Training for about five weeks on Fundamental Human Rights, International Law of Armed Conflicts, Rules of Engagement, and Gender-Based Violence. A Code of Conduct to regulate the conduct of military personnel in the theatre of operation is printed in hard copies and distributed to troops during the Pre-Induction training before they are finally deployed.
“Additionally, there are very effective instruments of discipline in place, to deter would-be erring personnel and to mete out punitive sanctions to defaulting personnel. There is a court martial in place at 7 Division where erring personnel have been tried and the verdicts of their trials made public.”