General Court Martial sitting at the Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja Wednesday, December 17, 2014 has sentenced 54 out of the 59 convicted soldiers to death after pronouncing them guilty of mutiny.
The 59 soldiers, who were posted to serve in the Boko Haram laden community in Borno state, allegedly refused superior order by their commander to advance on a mission to combat the terrorists and secure the town.
The soldiers, who are the second batch of Nigerian soldiers that have been condemned to death by Nigerian Military courts for mutiny, had pleaded not guilty to all charges levelled against them at the commencement of the trial since October, 2014.
The charge against them was conspiracy to commit mutiny against the authorities of the 7 Division on Monday, August 4, 2014 at the Mulai Primary School camp in Borno State; the offence which is punishable under Section 52(1) (a) of the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The commander of the 111 Special Forces, Lt.-Col. Opurum, was called by the prosecution as one of the witnesses.
Lt-Col. Opurum, in his statement which was marked as exhibit P1 said the Special Forces were given an order to advance and recapture Delwa, which has been claimed by the terrorist group, so as to clear the way for other military battalions to pass through. The aim was to also recapture Babulin and Damboa from Boko Haram.
According to Opurum, it was only four officers and 29 soldiers followed in the course out of 174 soldiers in the unit as others refused to join him in the operation.
He also said that he encouraged and assured them that they could accomplish the task and recapture the community but the soldiers were “hesitant to partake in the operation” in spite of the assurances.
He however admitted that 47 out of the hesitant soldiers later joined in the course after they came under attack from Boko Haram, who were more armed in number and in superior weapons.