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Army sentences soldier to death, jails others for killing civilians





A Nigerian Army’ s General Court Martial sitting in Maiduguri , Borno State , has sentenced a soldier serving in the Operation Lafiya Dole , Lance Corporal John Godwin, to death and jailed three other soldiers for killing six civilians among other human rights abuses.

Godwin , who was found guilty of killing five rescued civilians in the Yamteke area of Borno State during the time the persons were being transferred for investigation in November 2015 , was charged with murder, which is an offence punishable under Section 106 (a ) of Armed Forces Acts (Cap A20 ) in the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 .

Apart from Godwin , other soldiers standing trial before the General Court Martial bagged jail sentences for various offences , ranging from manslaughter to illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

A soldier, Sergeant Innocent Ototo, was sentenced to life imprisonment for torturing and killing a 13- year- old boy, Yakubu Isa , whom Ototo alleged to have stolen his phone . The incident happened at Zamanbari area of Maiduguri .

A Lance Corporal , Benjamin Osage , was also charged along with Ototo for committing the same offence and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, while Private Sunday Awe, who was attached to the 112 Task Force Battalion, Mafa in Borno State , was also sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for unlawful procession of 1 , 339 rounds of ammunition.

In his judgement, the President of the Court Martial , Brig. - Gen . Gbenga Adesina, said the offences contravened Nigerian Laws , Geneva Conventions, to which Nigeria is a signatory , and the Nigerian Army’ s terms of engagement.

He said Godwin had admitted the killing of the rescued persons and that he used three rounds of ammunition on each of the deceased . He gave the names of the victims as Saleh Bello , Ibrahim Bello , Abba Ali , Abubakar Musa and Isa Garba , all aged between 17 and 22 .

He added , “ Godwin has run afoul of human rights violations and the rules of engagement , while fighting Boko Haram . You are guilty of murder as charged before this court martial and sentenced to death.

“ It should be noted that the soldiers’ sentences are subject to confirmation by the Chief of Army Staff and the Army Council . ”

Meanwhile , Adesina added that Private Bitrus Yunana and Lance Corporal Ayuba Jonathan have also been charged and sentenced to five years, jail term each for unlawful possession of 925 and 450 rounds of ammunition respectively on August 2, 2016.

The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations and 7 Division’ s spokesperson, Col . Kingsley Samuel , said in a statement on Friday that one soldier was sentenced to death while three others were sent to jail .

Meanwhile , the Nigerian Air Force on Friday bombarded the hideouts of some Boko Haram terrorists in northern Borno and the Sambisa general area in an operation, code - named Operation Ruwan Wuta three .

The air force deployed four fighter jets which bombed the terrorists’ hideout in Kolaram , Monguno area, reportedly killing an undisclosed number of the Boko Haram insurgents .

NAF Director of Public Relations and Information , Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanysa, who confirmed the bombardments, said , “ Four NAF fighter aircraft took turns to attack structures occupied by the terrorists in the settlement . Subsequent battle damage assessment revealed that the attacks resulted in destroying the structures and neutralising the fleeing insurgents. ”

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