The Nigerian Army has court–martialed 18 soldiers for attempted murder and mutiny in Maimalari cantonment, Maiduguri.
In an internal memo seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the Commander, Army Headquarter Garrison, B.T Ndiomu, ordered the General Court Martial, GCM, to be presided by C.C Okonkwo, a Brigadier General.
Mr. Ndiomu, who is also a Brigadier General, had ordered that a GCM be assembled at the garrison’s conference hall on June 26.
The GCM is made up of seven members, two waiting members, a judge advocate and two prosecuting officers.
Others include: a liaison officer, a contact officer, two officers authorized to sign any amendment convening officer and eight other soldiers who form a court secretariat.
The 18 soldiers are to be court-martialed for an incident that occurred in May at the barracks On May 14, some soldiers, angered by the death of 12 of their colleagues in a Boko Haram ambush, opened fire on the vehicle of the
General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Ahmadu Mohammed.
The soldiers blamed Mr. Mohammed for the death of their colleagues killed in the ambush.
Sources had told PREMIUM TIMES that the soldiers were ambushed while on a special operation in Kalabalge Local Government Area where locals on the Tuesday morning killed about 150 insurgents and arrested 10 others.
After the operation, during which some military equipment were recovered from the insurgents, the soldiers who had arrived the council, at night were asked to return to Maiduguri.
The soldiers reportedly pleaded to be allowed to return to Maiduguri the next morning, as the night trip would be too risky.
Their request was allegedly turned down and the troop had to drive to Maiduguri at night.
“Those commanding the troop declined their request to pass the night in one of the villages on the grounds that the top ranks at the headquarters of the 7 Division would not be pleased if they don’t go back to Maiduguri that night,” said a ranking soldier, who sought anonymity.
The 7 Division, recently formed, is located in Maiduguri, the capital of the troubled Borno State.
But half way through their journey, they ran into a Boko Haram ambush and 12 of them got killed while some others were injured, sources said.
The military later claimed that only four soldiers died in the ambush, before it increased the figure to six.
The survivors, in what seemed a vengeance mission, opened fire on their commander, Mr. Mohammed, when they eventually arrived in Maiduguri.
Mr. Mohammed, a Major General, was immediately redeployed to another command which the military did not reveal.
However, in its version of the attack on the GOC, the military said the soldiers did not shoot at their commander.
“The fact of the matter is that troops on patrol around Chibok were ambushed by insurgents yesterday. Troops engaged the insurgents in a fierce combat and extricated themselves from the ambush killing several insurgents.
“Four soldiers however lost their lives during the ambush.
“On evacuation of the remains of the fallen troops, the General Officer Commanding addressed the troops who registered their anger about the incident by firing into the air,” the military spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, had said in a statement.
The Nigerian Army, however, instituted a military board of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the conduct of soldiers who fired some shots.
In a charge sheet signed by Mr. Ndiomu on June 28, it was specified that 11 of the soldiers are being charged with criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny among others.
These eleven soldiers are facing a six-count charge of committing mutiny, criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny, attempted murder, disobedience to particular orders, insubordinate behaviour contrary to and punishable under the law, and false accusation.
The charge sheet read that the soldiers inspired other military personnel of the 101 battalion to commit mutiny and also accused E. Azenda, a Lieutenant colonel who is the Second in Command of the 101 battalion of conspiring with other officers to kill the soldiers.
One of the charges read “that you between 13 and 14 May 2014 at Maimalari cantonment in Maiduguri fired sporadically with the intent to incite other personnel of 101 battalion against the authority of 7 Division.”
Punishment for the offences under the Armed Forces Act include; death, imprisonment, dismissal with ignominy from the Armed Forces, a fine of a sum not exceeding the equivalent of three months’ pay among others.
The accused soldiers are entitled to a defence counsel of their choice. However, the convening officer must be informed of the defence counsel 24 hours before trial commences.
The convening officer is also expected to appoint a counsel if the accused persons fail to secure one.
The president of the GCM is expected to submit six bound copies of the proceedings of each case to Mr. Ndiomu not later than six weeks after the end of the trial.
Below are names of the accused soldiers, their ranks and service numbers:
96NA/ 42/6235 Cpl Jasper Braidolor
96NA/ 43/ 10277 Cpl David Musa
05NA/ 57/ 3451 LCpl Friday Onun
09NA/ 64/ 4905 LCpl Yusuf Shuaibu
09NA/ 62/ 1648 LCpl Igono Emmanuel
09NA/ 64/ 4214 Pte Andrew Ngbede
10NA/ 65/ 8344 Pte Nurudeen Ahmed
10NA/ 65/ 7084 Pte Ifeanyi Alukhagbe
13NA/ 69/ 2898 Pte Alao Samuel
13NA/ 69/ 2907 Pte Amadi Chukwudi
13NA/ 69/ 2898 Pte Allan Linus
The other seven soldiers also court-martialed but yet to be charged are:
93NA/ 36/ 1542 Cpl David Luhbut
97NA/ 45/ 7423 Cpl Muhammed Sani
03NA/ 53/ 816 Lcpl Stephen Clement
09NA/ 62/ 1648 Inama Samuel
09NA/ 64/ 5858 Iseh Ubong
10NA/ 65/ 6912 Ichocho Jeremiah
10NA/ 65/ 7343 Sabastine Gwaba