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ECOMOG soldiers spoil for war

Posted by By Philip Nwosu on 2005/05/17 | Views: 380 |

ECOMOG soldiers spoil for war


Some soldiers of the Nigerian Army who participated in peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone appear set for war, following the inability of the authorities to ensure compliance with the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal on their matter.

Some soldiers of the Nigerian Army who participated in peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone appear set for war, following the inability of the authorities to ensure compliance with the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal on their matter.

The Appeal Court in Lagos had last year upturned the decision of a general court-martial, which had on December 22, 2000 convicted 23 soldiers who were alleged to have carried out a mutiny in Egypt that same year.

The soldiers include Corporals Segun Oladele, Warriboko Akio, Lance Corporals Bala Usman, Jimoh Lamidi, Kunoun Owerinpire, Jacob Okhe, Private Sunday Umesi, Otokoro Kenneth and David Sunday.
Others are Privates Oladigbo Abubakar, Taiwo Surajudeen, Jonathan Adamu, Okwudili Anyankwo Suleiman Dauda, Usman Aliyu, Eribo Osadalor and Gambo Ishaq.

Also Private Mohammed Wase, Uba Mohammed, Christian Nguma, Isah Suleiman, Mohammed Mai and Dan-Bauchi Aliyu are among the soldiers calling on the government to press Army Headquarters to comply with the decision of the court.
The court had ordered the Nigerian Army to reinstate the soldiers who had by their conviction at the general court-martial, lost their stay in the force.

When the soldiers visited Daily Sun, they issued a stern warning to the military authorities, threatening to re-enact the situation that played out in Egypt in the year 2000 in Lagos.
According to them, "this time around, Egypt would be a childís play, we will make sure that the situation is elaborate in order to drive home our point."

In a voice filled with anger, Private Jonathan Adamu displayed his picture as an active combatant, saying, "look at me in action and now somebody is toying with our lives. We know that all what they are doing is play politics with us, but they should just wait and see.
"They appear not to take us serious, but we are going to make them realise for once that we are soldiers and we can still fight."

The soldiers had in 2000, threatened to commit mass suicide, by setting themselves ablaze on their hospital beds at the Nigerian Army Base Hospital, Yaba, after they had been unattended to for close to three years.
When the threat came, the Army took it with a pinch of salt, but the force hierarchy only discovered it was no childís play when they woke to hear a distress call from the hospital of a move to set the hospital ablaze by the soldiers.

Daily Sun gathered that the soldiers were nursing various degrees of injury sustained in the battlefield, while fighting with the Nigerian contingent of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group, to ensure peace in the troubled Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The soldiers became angry, when after their tour of duty in the troubled West African states, they were left unattended to at the Army Base Hospital.
One of the soldiers told Daily Sun that they were at the hospital for over three years nursing their wounds and the authorities never deemed it fit to attend to them until they threatened to raze the hospital and kill themselves.

Corroborating their statement, their attorney from Gani Fawehinmi Chambers said the soldiers in the course of their service sustained wounds and injuries consequent upon which they were flown back to Nigeria and kept at the Army Base Hospital, Yaba.
The Attorney said that while at the hospital, their injuries were not properly attended to and their situation degenerated.

It was gathered that after the threat to commit mass suicide, the Nigerian Army authorities quickly raised funds, which they had hitherto said not available, for the soldiers to be flown abroad for treatment.
The soldiers were flown to Hassabo International Hospital in Egypt, but when they got to that country, they commenced a "sitting" protest, alleging that the officers sent along with them had cornered their estacodes.

The protest raised several questions and attracted several international condemnations, prompting the military to move towards dealing with those involved. A general court-martial was convened by the then Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Victor Malu with specific instructions by the authorities to deal with the soldiers.

Subsequently, they were convicted to various terms of imprisonment and the convening authority confirmed the sentence as passed.
Reacting to the renewed resolve of the soldiers to cause trouble, the Army Headquarters said their matter is being handled by the legal department of the force.

Indeed, the Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Mohammed Yusuf told Daily Sun in a telephone chat that the Army is aware of the Appeal Courtís decision, but the decision is being reviewed before coming out with appropriate decision.
He stated that since the country is in a democracy, due process had to be followed before the matter could be settled once and for all.

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