Nigerians react to the news of twelve soldiers of Nigerian Army receiving the death penalty for participating in Maiduguri mutiny in May 2014.
It would be recalled that in mid-May, a number of Nigerian Army officers shot at their superior in Maimalari cantonment in Maiduguri, Borno State. They attacked their superior, General Officer Commanding, 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Ahmadu Mohammed's vehicle. The soldiers were apparently angered by the deaths of their comrades-in-arms who met their demise in Boko Haram ambush.
On September 15, eighteen army officers, accused of participating in Maiduguri mutiny, were court-martialled and heard their sentences. Twelve were sentenced to death. One officer will have to serve 28 days of hard labour. Five remaining officers were acquitted.
"They signed to defend us even at risk of losing their life. ... They are ready to go to any length to protect us even by sacrificing their own life," Legit.ng reader Sam argued in his opinion piece he wrote on the subject of the Maiduguri mutiny.
"Mutiny is a crime in military and punishable by death. But why not address the root causes? Military authority should please temper justice with mercy. ...Why should they receive death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny when they were saying the truth? Remember, they have wives, children and family! Did they deserve to die?" Mr. Sam asked.
We decided to ask Nigerians the same question to know where they stand on the matter. Below you may find their varying responses.
The majority of almost 800 respondents were unanimous in opposing the death penalty for those who participated in the Maiduguri mutiny. They urged the Federal Government and President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene into the matters. These soldiers should be given a strict warning but not killed, Nigerians say.
Isah Daniel said: “I don’t support this! I am a uniformed man like them. There's nothing wrong in someone fighting for their rights. If someone kills those soldiers, I bet their own children will die the same way the soldiers died. Nonsense.”
Akinrinlude Zainab said: “Free our husbands, fathers and friends. Please give them a second chance!”
Edu Cool Smith said: "When I got the news that 12 out of the 18 accused soldiers received death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny, I wept for thee o nation. Let not this execution be carried out. Their blood will speak. Injustice! What have we turned into? Jeremiah lamented "Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities," (Lamentations 5:7). If so, we bear the horrors of our past leaders. Will our children be able to escape our sins? Blood is too much! Before these soldiers went out of control they complained of bad treatment! These soldiers are death-bound because they are poor. Many Nigerians are standing against this injustice! Let's stand for them. Once upon a time we were a glorious nation. But today, ‘The joy of our heart has ceased; our dance has turned into mourning. The crown has fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned!’ (Lamentations 5:15)”
Theophilus Chinweike said: “Save our soldiers! Don't touch them. It's your fault, the government. Why would you send those boys into risk without proper arrangment? You are unable to prosecute the Boko Haram sponsors, but you want to kill our soldiers! Don't try it!”
Mukhtar Ladan said: “I strongly disagree with this precipitated judgment, this death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny. The presidency should as a matter of urgency intervene. Or else, the nation will do something about. Please, Nigerians, let us stand against the injustice. Silence in the face of injustice is a crime.”
Okechi Kalu-whyte said: “They should fight who is fighting them and not to kill the few they have that will defend the nation. Boko Haram are killing soldiers, and soldiers are killing each other. Doesn't it sound funny? Please, how sincere is the person at helm of the matter even?”
Seigha Omubo Dede said: "This death penalty for mutiny is injustice of the highest order. It is another ploy to silence the revelation of the Boko Haram sponsors in the Army. If not, why death sentence? These soldiers only reacted to the fact that they were being neglected. Where are our human rights activists? If there's any time to speak up, now is that time! SAY TO INJUSTICE!”
Ojo Babatunde David said: "This death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny sentence is not final. It is subject to ratification by President G.E. Jonathan who is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. If President Jonathan knows nothing about BOKO HARAM, he would not sign the death warrant of the soldiers. He would commute the sentence to a prison term."
A number of commentators, however, did not think that the participants of the Maiduguri mutiny were as brave as others were calling them.
Bariborve Piinaakaleop Kpegeol said: "Brave by trying to kill their commander? Maybe bravery has got another meaning. Anyway, I am not saying they should be killed… But at least they were not that brave!"
Also, some Nigerians warned to "keep our military out of politics" and insisted that the death penalty was a fair punishment for taking part in the now-notorious Maiduguri mutiny.
Obanya Napoleon Christopher said: "Death penalty for this Maiduguri mutiny is well-deserved! They were not only charged for mutiny but also for attempted murder. Disrespecting a senior officer is an offence, not talking of shooting at him. That’s the highest insult ever. So many soldiers in Nigeria have joined the army only because they couldn’t find a job! We need dedicated and loyal soldiers. Death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny of these twelve will serve as a deterrent to others.”
Goa Lekue Charles said: "It is very funny now how people claim to have knowledge of all topics and issues. It is very sad how we speak about military laws without knowing what they stand for. Military is the last place where indiscipline is encouraged! We should stop all this noise-making. Do we want our military guys to start acting like our police? Please, death penalty for mutiny is the punishment, as is for any act of indiscipline in the military. They all know it as they were not forced to join. It is sad, but such is the bitter truth.”
Dafe Philibus Habila said: "They entered a profession, and they must be judged by the rules. They knew death penalty for Maiduguri mutiny will be the ultimate price. They should face it. But the problem is, their general, too, must be court-martialed. I don’t agree with his retirement. He, too, should face the music. In fact, not only him but the other ten generals with fat accounts. What is their fate? All should face the music so as to serve as a deterrence to others.”
Kakka Sppecie said: “What if the GOC was killed in the attempted murder and shooting? Sentiment is one of the root causes of Nigeria's socio-political decay. We should try to make people know that whoever breaks the law will face its wrath. It's a pity to judge and sentence these young soldiers! But even insurgents knows this law and will never do what these soldiers did. Maybe we'll temper justice, but how can we instill discipline in the armed forces if we continue like this?”
What is your own opinion of the death sentences handed out to the twelve Nigerian soldiers who were participants of the Maiduguri mutiny?