BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI-ABUJA.
Barely 24 hours after the General Court Martial headed by Brigadier General Mohammed Yusuf delivered judgment on the trial of 59 soldiers and found 54 of them guilty of mutiny and conspiracy to mutiny thereby sentencing them to death, indications has emerged that the sentences will be appealed as killing them will amount to genocide.
Lead counsel to the soldiers and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana in a statement insisted that the action of the soldiers in refusing to obey the orders of the Commanding Officer of the Special Forces Battalion, Lt. Colonel Opurum was as a result of non-availability of arms and ammunition to prosecute the instruction of the Commander.
His words, “Convinced that soldiers who made a legitimate demand for equipment to fight the insurgents cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be properly convicted for mutiny; we shall take all necessary legal measures to prevent the army authorities from giving effect to the genocidal verdict of the court-martial”.
Emphasizing that, “The oath of allegiance taken by the accused soldiers is not a license to commit suicide”, Falana said, “It is a solemn undertaking to defend the nation based on the expectation that the Federal Government would have complied with Section 217 of the Constitution on the mandatory requirement to equip the armed forces adequately.
He recalled that when equipment was made available to the Battalion on 18 August 2014, some of the accused soldiers who initially refused moving to the battle field for fear of being overwhelmed went to the field and fought gallantly.