Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), on Saturday, raised the alarm that 12 soldiers, who were sentenced to death for mutiny last September, are being starved even as he alleged that they are held in an underground military facility.
The lawyer, who made the claims yesterday during an interview with Sahara TV, said the military was denying the soldiers their right to an appeal.
Falana noted that it had been more than one week since any of the soldiers were given food.
He said, “I am in touch with them (the soldiers) and I am taking up their basic complaints, which is that they are currently being starved and dehumanised by the military authorities that are supposed to have taken them to the jailhouse, having convicted them. But they are being kept in an underground cell somewhere in Lagos.
“Under the Armed Forces Act, soldiers who are convicted and sentenced by the court martial are entitled to appeal to the Court of Appeal after the authorities might have confirmed the sentences. In this particular instance, these 12 soldiers are among 66 that have been convicted and sentenced to death.
“The Chief of Army Staff ought to have confirmed the sentences since November (2015) in the case of the 12. And in the case of the 54 others, it should have been February, since they were convicted in December (2014). In other words, confirmation or review should take place less than two months after conviction”.
According to Falana, seven months after the soldiers’ sentences were handed down, the military authorities have not done anything.
He added that the fate of the soldiers had yet to be determined because the confirmation had not taken place and they had been denied their right of appeal under the Armed Forces Act and under the Nigerian Constitution.
The former West African Bar Association President further highlighted the illegality of the military authorities executing the soldiers without allowing them exercise their right of appeal, stating that the country was no longer under a military dictatorship.
“The soldiers did not commit mutiny. They were asking for weapons to fight Boko Haram and Section 217 of the Nigerian Constitution says the government of Nigeria shall equip them adequately. In this case, the government failed in its responsibility to equip the army and simply asked these boys to commit suicide”, he said.