Friday, October 16, 2015

Nigerian military general jailed for losing weapons to Boko Haram

The Nigerian military on Thursday convicted a Brigadier General, Enitan Ransome-Kuti, blamed for the loss of Baga in Borno State to Boko Haram insurgents in January.

Mr. Ransome-Kuti, son of Beko Ransome-Kuti, a foremost Nigerian pro-democracy activist who died on February 10, 2006, was arraigned before a military court, sitting in Mogadishu Barracks, Abuja, in May.

He was accused of cowardly behaviour, loss of weapons to Boko Haram, and negligent performance of military duty under section 62b of the Armed Forces Act.

In its judgment Thursday, the court dismissed the charge bordering on cowardly behaviour, following a no-case submission by the defendant.

The court said the officer was right in withdrawing his troops in the face of superior firepower from Boko Haram terrorists.

He was however sentenced to six-month imprisonment for loss of equipment to the extremist sect.

He was also found guilty for negligently performing his duties and was therefore dismissed from service.

Femi Falana, SAN, assisted by a retired Army Major, Femi Oyebanji, represented the convicted General during the trial.

Mr. Falana told PREMIUM TIMES Friday morning that his team was still reviewing the judgment, which he described as contradictory.

He promised to provide further details later.

Mr. Ransome-Kuti, his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Suru, and some other senior officers, were arrested for failing to repel Boko Haram attack on the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force [MNJTF] in Baga in January.

Also arrested at the time were the Commanding Officers of the 134 and 174 Battalions — Lieutenant Colonel Haruna and Major Aliyu. The two battalions were under the MNJTF during the period.

Mr. Ransome-Kuti was the commander of the multinational force during the attack.

The commanders were detained shortly after they arrived Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, from Monguno, where they took refuge with troops after being dislodged from Baga.

Military sources told PREMIUM TIMES at the time that authorities were especially angry with Mr. Ransome-Kuti for his inability to lead his troop to counter the onslaught in Baga, despite the high calibre weapons and ammunition available to his unit.

After their arrests, the senior officers were held at the officers’ mess of the 21 Armoured Brigade, and were asked to account for the weapons lost to the insurgents.

The Nigerian Army had in August said cases of convicted and dismissed soldiers and the ongoing trials of officers and men would be reviewed.

But despite that announcement, the Special Court-Martial trying Mr. Ransome-Kuti at Abuja continued to sit.

“Since the other courts-martial have been dissolved while the suspects have been directed to appear for a review of their charges filed against them it is discriminatory, inequitable and illegal to continue with the trial of Brigadier-General Ransome-Kuti, Mr. Falana had told PREMIUM TIMES in August.

“The case should be reviewed in the interest of justice.”

The Army is yet to comment on the judgment.

Premium Times

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