Muhammad Buhari,President elect
Indications are rife that the about 66 soldiers that have been condemned to death for refusing to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria recently may after all get respite immediately the county’s President elect, Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in on May 29.
A Lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana dropped an hint in this direction to the media as he stressed that the incoming President would temper justice with mercy on the convicted soldiers who had no weapons to fight the Boko Haram militants as at that time of their arrest.
wouldeen critical of the courts martial, which were held behind closed doors
Femi Falana who had been one of many Nigerians critical of the soldiers court martial indeed told the media that Muhammadu Buhari had promised to review all operations against the militants.
He said that he was now confident the soldiers, who said they lacked weapons to take on the Islamist insurgents, would not be executed and face justice.
The Nigerian military through its spokesman,Col Sani Usman had said that the courts martial, currently taking place in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, were to meant to ensure professionalism in the army.
Mr Falana, who represented some of the 66 sentenced to death for conspiracy, cowardice and mutiny last year, stated that the Nigerian government had failed to adequately equip the units fighting the insurgency in the north-east.
“The soldiers did not sign to commit suicide but to fight for their fatherland and since the government did not make weapons available, they were unable to fight,” he had for example recently told BBC’s Newsday programme.
“The sentences are awaiting confirmation but we are taking steps to ensure that no soldier, no officer in Nigeria is executed on account of the negligence of the Nigerian state in motivating the soldiers to fight and equipping them,” he added
He lamented that outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan “had refused to accede to the request of the convicted soldiers” to review their matter despite evidence supplied by some of the accused pointed to the fact that some corrupt officers diverted money meant for salaries and arms
“So happily the incoming government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari has promised to review the entire operations in the north-east region and we are confident that the cases of the officers and the soldiers will be reviewed so that justice will be done to them,” he submitted.
Despite a state of emergency in three north-eastern state, Boko Haram managed to take over many towns and villages last year but the situation changed notably as from the end of January this year as the Nigerian Army with military backing from Chad, Cameroon and Niger began to recapture territory.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army last week pulled out about 59 officers of the rank of General who had retired from active military service.