Mutinous soldiers of newly created 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri have been relocated to another division for trial, it was learnt yesterday.
The military is said to have taken the step to avoid the trial constituting a distraction to the Division in its fight against the Boko
Haram insurgency and to avoid “spiral effect” on the morale of other soldiers.
A source revealed that Buni Yadi in Yobe State is constantly exposed to attacks from Boko Haram because of the “thin presence” of troops in the area as a result of manpower challenge. The troops deployed in the area are only on patrol duties.
Although the military is silent on the number of the affected soldiers, the figure is said to be between 18
Some of the soldiers were fingered in the alleged shots fired at a car carrying the former General Officer Commanding the 7 Division in Maiduguri, Borno State, Maj.-Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed while others were said to have violated the Army Act on issues bordering on redeployment to flashpoints in parts of Borno State.
A military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “The mutinous soldiers have been taken away from Maiduguri to some Divisions where court martial had been ongoing.
According to him, “We do not want the trial to distract the focus of the 7 Division in curtailing Boko Haram. It can evoke emotion and generate more reactions. Already, you can see the wives of soldiers protesting against deployment of their spouses to flashpoints.” The source was however not forthcoming on the location of the court martial.
Another source cited security reasons for the shifting of the trial from Maiduguri to other divisions.
The source said: “Actually, based on security reasons, it will not be safe to put the soldiers on trial in Maiduguri.
They do not want it to have contagious effects.
“And the good thing about court martial is that its jurisdiction covers all parts of the country. The soldiers can be tried anywhere.”
On a related note, it was learnt that the Police Training Academy near Gwoza in Borno State had been overrun by Boko Haram insurgents.
A witness was quoted by the BBC as saying that he heard shots after the insurgents arrived in three armoured vehicles and on dozens of motorcycles.
A police spokesman confirmed the attack and a senior security source said it had not been possible to
establish communication with the academy since Wednesday, the BBC reported.
The Liman Kara College is near Gwoza town, which has been seized by Boko Haram since the beginning of this month.
The militants have stepped up their attacks after being pushed out of their bases in Maiduguri, the capital of
Borno state, and have been targeting towns and villages in deadly raids.
In recent weeks, the militants have been moving from their rural camps and taking over substantial towns such as Damboa and Gwoza.
Attempts by the security forces to retake Gwoza have not succeeded so far – and a group of about 40 soldiers is now refusing to fight, saying they are too poorly equipped to take on the heavily armed insurgents.
Residents of Liman Kara, which is about 15km from Gwoza, told the BBC Hausa service that police recruits
were seen running from the college after the attack began at dawn on Wednesday. He said he was unable to confirm if there were casualties as he had joined other residents and fled the town to nearby hills.
A security official who craved anonymity told the BBC that the militants had “entered the school” but said he could not confirm they were in control of the college as it had not been possible to contact it.
A similar attack on the college was repelled by officers undergoing training there two weeks ago.
BBC Hausa’s Mahmud Lalo said the Liman Kara academy is one of only two riot police training colleges in Nigeria and the militants are likely to find weapons there.
Several hundred militants were reportedly involved in the raid on the college, which there were reportedly more than 290 police trainees at the time.