Sahara Reporters has learnt of a covert plan to ‘kill’ a group of soldiers who were arrested late last year on charges of mutiny and attempted murder. The soldiers who have been held since September last year managed to reach out to the outside world via text messages, using the opportunity to reveal the conditions they are being held in.
In an initial message, they sent this text to our reporter: “Greetings sir, we are the 12 soldiers sentenced to death \others detained at CIC Apapa, Lagos. We are to inform you that following our denial of access to our families, councils & even access to fund [sic] to feed our families\pay our legal fees, that as you know, we had been concealing our cell phone to help us hear from counsels.
The phone was collected on 6\5\15, in view of this, we have not been fed, We are on hand-cuff & leg chain, we are kept naked [sic] & deprived of even drinking water. As it stands now sir, our lives are at stake. We, therefore, plead with due respect that you intervene”. Our reporter then followed up trying to call the number but met with no success.
After a while, one of the accused reached our reporter again, this time in a voice call with a frantic message. “They are trying to kill us. They want to kill us” the voice said. He went on to inform our reporter that the authorities have noticed that they have access to a cell phone and have therefore resorted to using starving techniques as a form of punishment. He said they had not been fed nor given any water for about five days.
Last year the story broke of some 12 soldiers who were reined in by the military authorities for allegedly refusing to confront Boko Haram militants and firing at their commanding officer in the northeastern city of Maiduguri in May. The soldiers were reportedly angry after a convoy was ambushed on a road frequently targeted by Islamist Boko Haram militants and decided to protest to the authorities who they blamed for underequipped and underpaying them.
They were subsequently charged with mutiny and attempted murder and sentenced to death.
Attempts by our reporter to glean more information from the phone conversation were cut short as the phone abruptly went dead. It is believed they are under strict guard and thus had to hang up to avoid being seen by the authorities. They, however, managed to sneak out another text message. “Is not OK, they want to kill us with bitting [sic] starvation since 4 days we have not eating [sic] any food pls help us we are the 12 soldiers they sentenced last year.”
We have tried to reach the military high command for comment but at the time of going to press, we had not been able to make contact.