A batch of 22 army officers is set to be court-martialed in Lagos in connection with recent military failures in the northeast of Nigeria.
The court, set up by the Major General Tibi, the General Officer Commanding the 81 Division of the Nigerian army, will take place at the Officer’s mess of the Military Cantonment in Ikeja. The five-man panel will be headed by Brigadier-General CO Ayara.
In the dock will be mainly those officers recently alleged to have abandoned the frontline of the military operations in Adamawa State as Boko Haram militants invaded Mubi and overran Vimtim, the hometown of the Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh. It is alleged that the officers did not lift a finger against the insurgents.
SaharaReporters investigations about the officers facing trial indicate that the suspects include:
• Colonel Victor Ebhaleme, who briefly acted as the Brigade Commander of the 23rd Brigade in Yola;
• Lt. Colonel AO Agwu, who was the commander of the soldiers from the 234 battalion that fled Mubi on October 29;
• Captain S Raymond, who was the officer commanding and platoon leader of the Vimtim team guarding the home town of the CDS. He is alleged to have fled with his team as Boko Haram invaded Vimtim on October 28; and
• Lt. Col A A Egbejule, who allegedly burnt several brand new armored tanks as the insurgents overwhelmed his team in a fierce fight between Bassa and Michika; he reportedly fled afterward.
The officers had been in various military police detention centers before their arraignment today in Lagos.
Their arraignment follows the death sentence passed on 59 soldiers by a military court at the Mogadishu barracks in Abuja last week. The condemned soldiers were moved into a military detention facility in Apapa Lagos yesterday; they have not been fed since arriving, they are being held at an underground detention facility according to our sources.
Several of the officers have denied the charges against them, claiming that inadequate equipment and high-level corruption at the top of the military hierarchy are largely responsible for their inability to properly engage Boko Harm militants.
Meanwhile, some 2000 troops accused of abandoning the battlefront in Adamawa are currently sequestered in Jos awaiting transfer to their different units where they will also be court-martialed for various offenses. The soldiers, who were brought in from Yola, are being held under inhumane conditions at the Maxwell Khobe Cantonment at the 3rd division of the Nigerian army in Jos. The soldiers are mostly from 234 battalion, 116 battalion, Army HQ Team ‘A” and 213 battalion.
They remain in Jos subjected to grueling manual labor, denied their allowances while they await repatriation to their respective units to face further disciplinary action.
SaharaReporters learned that another set of 199 soldiers have been taken to Abuja to face court martial in the next few weeks.
At today’s arraignment of officers in Ikeja, some of the military judges were absent thereby forcing the court to adjourn commencement of trial till January 16, 2015. Prominent Nigerian human rights activist , Femi Falana, will act as defense attorney to several of the officers.