Lawyer-activist Femi Falana Thursday says the sacking of 290 soldiers by the Nigerian Army amount to abuse of the soldiers fundamental human right. Falana, a senior advocate, said the soldiers were merely subjected to orderly room trial – in which they pleaded not guilty – and not a court martial, as stipulated in the Armed Forces Act.
Falana’s statement read: “I have just confirmed that a total of 290 soldiers were dismissed yesterday by the Authorities of the Nigerian Army. The letters of dismissal were distributed in Jos, Plateau State and Ibadan, Oyo state. Before the dismissal, the soldiers were subjected to orderly room trial. Even though they pleaded not guilty to the charges of cowardice and failure to fight the Boko Haram sect, the dismissed soldiers were not tried by any court-martial in line with the provisions of the Armed Forces Act.
“It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army also sacked another batch of 200 soldiers in similar circumstances in December last year (2014).”
“Apart from the deliberate refusal of the military authorities to respect the fundamental right of the dismissed soldiers to fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, the punishment meted out to them cannot be justified since the Federal Government failed to equip the armed forces at the material time.
“Indeed, the belated onslaught launched against the Boko Haram sect by the Nigerian Army has been attributed to the military hardware recently acquired by the Government.
“As the soldiers are ill-equipped to handle the weapons, the military authorities have admitted that ‘military instructors’ have been engaged from South Africa to train them.
“In the light of the foregoing, the Authorities of the Nigerian Army should annul the illegal letters and recall the dismissed soldiers without any delay. In the alternative, a programme should be designed for the rehabilitation of the dismissed soldiers.
“Otherwise, many of them may be driven to criminality since they had been given military training at the expense of the nation.