Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

World Today

Nigeria Court MartialFILE -Soldiers accused of refusing to fight in the country’s northeastern Islamic uprising appear before a court martial in Abuja, Nigeria. (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga FILE)

Nigeria on Wednesday sentenced 54 soldiers to death for mutiny, assault, cowardice and refusing to fight Islamic extremists.

The court-martial charges all were connected to the soldiers’ refusal to deploy to recapture three towns seized by Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram in August, according to the charge sheet.

The lawyer for the condemned men, Femi Falana, said the 54 soldiers were convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. He said five soldiers were acquitted.

They all were accused of “conspiring to commit mutiny against the authorities of seven Division, Nigerian Army,” which is on the front line of the fighting in the northeast of the West African nation.

Twelve soldiers were sentenced to death in September for mutiny and attempted murder of the commanding officer in the counter-insurgency. They blamed him for the deaths of an unknown number of soldiers ambushed and killed after they were ordered to drive at night on a road frequently attacked by the militants.

Troops regularly complain that they are outgunned by Boko Haram, they are not paid in full and they are abandoned on the battlefield without enough ammunition or food.

This story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.