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Mutiny, other offences: Court-martial of 97 soldiers begins

Army authorities inaugurated the General Court Martial at the Mogadishu Cantonment to try the soldiers, who were brought from the 7 Division of the Nigeria…

Army authorities inaugurated the General Court Martial at the Mogadishu Cantonment to try the soldiers, who were brought from the 7 Division of the Nigeria Army in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Those to be charged with munity are likely to face the death penalty if convicted.
Other offences over which the soldiers are to be tried for are assault, absence without leave, house breaking, conduct prejudicial to good orders and service discipline, court martial president Brig-General Musa Yusuf said in an inaugural speech.
The 15 officers for trial include four Lieutenant Colonels, one Major, four Captains, five Lieutenants, and one lieutenant, while the other ranks are one Warrant Officer, one Sergeant, five Corporals, 21 Lance Corporals, 52 Privates and two Troopers.
Lagos-based lawyer Mr Femi Falana, SAN is appearing for 68 of the accused soldiers.
The court was inaugurated after none of the accused raised objection to the constitution of the 13-man panel. But the charges have yet to be read.
Brig-General Yusuf assured that the court would be guided by the principles of fair hearing and justice.
“You shall be given the facilities and conditions necessary for the proper defence of your cases,” he said.
“In line with the provisions of section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), every one of you shall be presumed innocent by the court until proved otherwise.
“Let me assure you that the GCM will base its decisions and findings only on the facts presented before it.”
Speaking to journalists after the inauguration, Falana said he had confidence in members of the general court martial to do justice.
“I have taken part in a number of courts of this nature and even where we lost, we have to go on appeal and we succeeded; so, there is no cause for alarm,” he said, quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The latest court martial came after a similar trial on September 16 when 12 soldiers were sentenced to death by firing squad for mutiny. The convicts have appealed the judgement.
During yesterday’s court inauguration, the defendants were given an opportunity to object to any of the members of the panel if they so wished. Falana entered a no-objection on behalf of the accused.
Other members of the court martial are Colonel Rabe Abubakar, Colonel Mohammed Sani, Colonel Muktar Mohammed, Colonel Godwin Anayo, Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim, Colonel Umar Mohammed, Lieutenant Colonel Victor Olatunji, Colonel Jonathan Gontor and Lieutenant Colonel Ukpe Ukpe as Judge advocate.
Before the panel was sworn in, the defense counsel raised various objections against the Judge Advocate, who is also assistant director of the Mogadishu Garrison Legal Unit, alleging that he may have participated in the investigation of the accused persons and should not be member of the panel.
However, prosecution counsel countered that the Military Police Department of the Army has competent lawyers who investigate cases and frame charges without relying on the officers from the Legal Unit of the Cantonment.
The defence also objected that the defendants have not been served with the charges or other documents including summary of investigation and proof of evidence to enable them prepare for their defence.
Brig-General Yusuf assured that the court will compel the prosecution to serve the defence all necessary documents before commencement of trial.
He then adjourned the case to October 15 for arraignment of the accused and commencement of trial.
The accused officers are Lt Col SS Tilawan, Lt Col DB Danzang,   Lt Col IC Ogamanya,   Lt Col SU Abubakar, Maj. II Sakaba, Capt M Hamadikko,   Capt Z Alhaji,  Capt MB Abdullahi, Capt SY Musa,  Lt T Garba,  Lt F Ogunleke, Lt A Abdullahi,   Lt IM Okoro,  Lt D Wunuji and 2Lt I M Uweh.
The soldiers include Warrant Officer Benedict Okoye, Sgt Oladipo Solomon, Cpl Mustapha Bandado, CpJ Andrew Ogolekwu, Cpl Saturday BFA,  Cpl Usman Mohammed,  LCpl Henry Shaibu, LCpl James Maifada, Cpl Daniel Joshua, LCpl Ndubisi Sabestine, LCpl Dauda Dalhatu, LCpl Aliyu Ahmed, LCpl Kasega, LCpl Bankole Taiwo, LCpl Ochehepo Sule, LCpl Ayodele Ola Wole, LCpl Isaiah Olofu and LCpl Ibrahim Yahana.
Also on the list are LCpl Mallam Jacob, LCpl Nwonu Friday, LCpl Yusuf Habu, Pte Chindo Julius, LCpl Joshua Friday, LCpl Gbenga Adevayo, LCpl Ali Abdullahi, LCpl Abubakar Ibrahim, LCpl Anthony Simeon,  LCpl Ngene Douglas,  Pte Olayode Oluwasegun, Pte Jimba Ahmed, LCpl Ibrahim Yohana, Pte Tijjani Jimoh, Pte Kabiru Abubakar, Pte Mamuda Sywasan, Pte James Emmanuel, Pte Mukaila Musa, Pte Ahunanya Temple and Pte Eyakise Uwah.
There are also Pte Ilesanmi Seun, Pte Ishiaku Solomon, Pte Audu Daniel, Pte Boaz Lucky, Pte Mohammed Abubakar, Pte Anas Awalu, Pte Babangida Jamilu, Pte Nasiru Zubairu, Pte Shehu Sa’adu, Pte Mohammed Suleiman, Pte Hashimu Ibrahim, Tpr Nnanna Promise, Pte Magaji Ahadu, Pte Amao Bukola, Pte Wuyep John, Pte Oti Kelvin, Pte Ameh Mathew, Pte Olaitan Jiseph,   Pte Kulukulu Endurance and Pte Usman Isaac.
Others are Pte Ocheje Williams, Pte Adila Dangana, Pte Sudan Hannania, Pte Sunday Godwin, Pte Datti Hassan, Pte Abubakar Garba, Pte Joseph Dauda, Pte Chiemela Azubuike, Pte Abubakar Mohammed, Pte Anagu Mark, Pte Danbaba Francis, Pte Oton Asuabiat, Pte Nwachukwu Udo, Pte Ibrahim Saliu, Pte Abafe Sylvester, Pte Eze Isaac, Pte Abubakar Mohammed, Pte Samuel Micheal, Pte Ishaya Musa, Pte Ogai Douglas, Pte Etim Peter, Pte Hennas Okpe, Tpr Oyedokun Halimat and Pte Nafiu Umar.

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