During an exclusive interview with SaharaTV, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate for Nigeria, Femi Falana, discussed the controversy surrounding the 600 Nigerian soldiers who have been making headlines for deserting the military.
During the discussion with SaharaTV correspondent Rudolf Okonkwo, Mr. Falana addressed the Nigerian government’s treatment of these soldiers since their arrest. He also reminded viewers that most of these soldiers deserted because they were not equipped or supported when ordered to fight Boko Haram.
“In the course of the trials of some of the soldiers, I maintained that these soldiers were not ready to fight. They were not motivated. They were not equipped; no adequate weapons to fight the Boko Haram troops,” Mr. Falana told SaharaTV.
In response to the recent comments from former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki that many weapons were ordered under President Jonathan have yet to reach Nigeria, Mr. Falana demanded that more investigations take place to fully understand why soldiers did not have weapons and ammunition.
“There were claims that the weapons they placed orders for were yet to arrive in the country. That is the response to the ongoing investigation of resources. The government is looking into the funds that were allocated for acquiring weapons. As far as I’m concerned, those weapons were not meant to come to the country,” he added.
The human rights lawyer was also not afraid to point fingers when asked who should be held accountable for lack of adequate weapons and sending soldiers out unprepared. Mr. Falana likened sending soldiers out ill-equipped to putting them on a suicide mission.
“The military hierarchy and immediate past National Security Advisor, who in fact usurped the power of Ministry of Defense, and took over the business of procuring arms for the country. It’s clear that an advisor on military matters turned himself into a Minister of Defense and a contractor of arms which were never made available to the soldiers,” Mr. Falana said.
Mr. Falana mentioned that former President Goodluck Jonathan should be treated with less harshness because he was unaware of how to deal with the military. He painted Jonathan as a President who was not told the truth of how the war against Boko Haram was going.
I have nothing but pity for President Jonathan. I don’t think he can really be brought in here. He really didn’t know much about military affairs and was hoodwinked and misled into believing that these guys were acquiring weapons. And he was given fantastic stories about what was going on in the battlefront.