Nigerian Army Dismisses 203 Soldiers After ‘Secret Night Trial’
According to reports, the Nigerian Army has dismissed 203 soldiers after a secret night-time court martial trial.
The soldiers were allegedly sacked for disobeying a direct order from their commanding officer, Premium Times reports.
However, one of the dismissed soldiers reportedly told Premium Times that he and his colleagues had been relieved of their duties because they asked for support equipment for an operation against Boko Haram in the Bama and Gwoza areas of Borno State.
“…We asked for support weapons. No support weapon was provided. Our CO (Commanding Officer) said he would discuss with the GOC (General Officer Commanding) of the 7 Division at the headquarters. When he came back, he said we should stand down. We thought all was well,” the soldier said.
However, to the shock of the soldiers, the next day their new CO, Lt Col Mohammed A, ordered them to submit their weapons and uniforms or be charged with mutiny.
“On the morning of 16 of August, after the GOC briefing, our commander started calling our names and he said anyone whose name is called should submit their uniform and weapon. He added that anyone who failed to do that would be charged for mutiny. We were surprised at what was happening,” the soldier said.
“He started from the most senior soldier among us, a warrant officer who had served for almost 30 years. They asked us to go back to the barracks. It is a war zone and our weapons had been taken from us. Staying around was of no use so we left Maiduguri back home,” he added.
The soldiers were later recalled and told to report to the 4th Brigade headquarters in Benin where they were imprisoned for three months.
“They kept us in the fenced field at the officers’ mess in 4th battalion headquarters. When we first arrived at Benin they took statements from us and took it to Maiduguri. The original charge against us was for deserting but after our statements were taken they changed the charge to disobedient to particular order. They said we disobeyed the CO’s order. They seized our phones, we couldn’t communicate with our families for the 90 days we were kept in detention,” the soldier said.
“It was dismissal without benefits. After 17 years in service. Even people that served for 30 years were dismissed without benefits. We had no legal representation,” he said of their eventual dismissal.
The soldier also said that he and his colleagues were being owed up to five months’ salaries before their dismissal.
The soldiers’ termination comes barely a week after four others were sentenced to death on allegations of mutiny. Teams of 12 and 54 soldiers had also earlier been sentenced to death for the same offence.