Nigerian soldiers given death penalty for mutiny

  • 17 December 2014
  • From the section Africa
Court Martial in Abuja. 2 Oct 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The soldiers appeared before a court martial in Abuja

A Nigerian court martial has sentenced 54 soldiers to death for refusing to fight Boko Haram Islamist militants.

The soldiers, who were found guilty of mutiny, were accused of refusing to help recapture three towns that had been seized by Boko Haram in August.

A lawyer for the soldiers said the 54 would face a firing squad. Five others were acquitted.

Troops have complained that they are not being given enough weapons and ammunition to fight Boko Haram.

The group has been waging an insurgency since 2009 and is seeking to create an Islamist state in north-eastern Nigeria.

More than 2,000 people have died in attacks blamed on Boko Haram so far this year and thousands more have been displaced by the fighting.

The court martial began in October and was conducted behind closed doors. Military officials were not available for comment afterwards.

Defence lawyer Femi Falana said the soldiers were all accused of "conspiring to commit mutiny against the authorities of 7 Division, Nigerian Army".

All the soldiers had denied the charges and the sentence is subject to approval by senior officers.

In a similar case in September, 12 soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny and the attempted murder of a commanding officer in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

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