Investigations by The Punch revealed this on Tuesday just as the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and human rights lawyers pleaded for the pardon of 12 soldiers who were sentenced to death by a military court on Monday. The soldiers, who had on May 14, 2014 fired shots at Mohammed, in Maiduguri, were convicted for mutiny and other offences such as insubordination.
Investigations revealed that Mohammed was retired after he was recalled to the Headquarters of the Nigerian Army without posting for months after the soldiers’ attempt on his life. It was gathered from a top military source in Abuja that the Army authorities quietly retired him last month.
The source said:
�The Maj. Gen. has been retired; you don’t expect that to be made public; issues of retirement especially in the military are confidential. The man was at the Army headquarters for some time. He was awaiting posting then but he was eventually retired about a month ago.”
Meanwhile, the NLC, TUC and human rights lawyers have urged the Presidency and the Army Council chaired by the Minister of Defence to prevail on the military authorities to spare the lives of the 12 soldiers. The lawyers are 3 Senior Advocates of Nigeria � Olisa Agbakoba, Femi Falana and Sebastian Hon � as well as Fred Agbaje and Monday Ubani.
In fact, Agbakoba, who flayed the judgment threatened to go to court to seek justice for the convicts.
He said that the process through which the court martial passed the sentences on the soldiers was unconstitutional. The SAN, who maintained that the composition of the court violated the principle of natural justice, said he had asked his lawyers to approach the convicts for the purpose of lodging an appeal against the military authorities.
Falana said the soldiers were erroneously charged as Mohammed whose car was shot at by the soldiers was not killed.
�The soldiers were charged with attempted murder which does not attract death penalty. In the circumstance, the 12 convicts should have been charged under Section 52(2) of the Armed Forces Act which provides for life imprisonment.
Before the incident, the soldiers at the Maimalari Cantonment had complained of insufficient ammunition, food and allowances. The visit of the GOC was said to have coincided with the arrival of the corpses of soldiers killed in an ambush in Chibok, Borno State on the night of May 13, 2014. It was the tragic situation which reportedly infuriated the soldiers. Having investigated and confirmed the circumstances which led to the mutiny in question, the military authorities removed the GOC.
In the light of the foregoing, I urge the Army Council not to confirm the death sentences passed on the 12 soldiers but commute same to imprisonment in the interest of Justice. The facts and circumstance of the mutinous act of the convicted soldiers should be taken into consideration.
However, if the death sentence of the Maiduguri 12 is confirmed by the Army Council, the convicted soldiers are advised to take the case to the Court of Appeal which is likely to follow its decision in the case of Yussuf & 21 Ors v Nigerian Army (2003) 36 WRN 68 wherein the sentence of life imprisonment passed on the appellants who had rioted at the Cairo Airport in Egypt was quashed.”
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