Nigeria court martials soldiers for balking at taking on Boko Haram

Nigeria`s Army says it will on Thursday begin court martials of soldiers balking at taking part in a stepped-up campaign against a five-year Islamist insurgency in the north by the Boko Haram group.

Abuja: Nigeria`s Army says it will on Thursday begin court martials of soldiers balking at taking part in a stepped-up campaign against a five-year Islamist insurgency in the north by the Boko Haram group.

A number of servicemen charged with refusing orders "in the course of ongoing military operations in the northeast" will go on trial before a military court in the capital Abuja, army spokesman Colonel Timothy Antigha said in a statement issued late Tuesday.

The proceedings come two weeks after 12 soldiers were given death sentences for mutiny, after shots were fired at their commanding officer in Maiduguri, the main city of restive northeastern Borno state, in May.

Antigha did not say how many soldiers would be tried on Thursday.

But the newspaper The Punch reported that 60 low-ranked soldiers were going before the court, accused of mutiny for refusing to be deployed in Maiduguri for an "operation". They have all said they are not guilty of the charge.

Nigeria`s army has been under pressure to end the bloody Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, made tens of thousands of others homeless and seen the militants make territorial gains in the northeast in recent weeks.

Last month, dozens of Nigerian soldiers refused to take part in an offensive to try to retake the captured Borno town of Gwoza, which the Islamists claimed as part of an Islamic caliphate.

Soldiers` wives had also demonstrated at the gate of a military base in Maiduguri trying to stop their husbands from heading to Gwoza.

Frontline troops have frequently complained of a lack of adequate weapons and equipment to fight the rebels.

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