Mutiny: Reprieve As Appeal Court Stops Execution Of Two Convicted Soldiers
BEVERLY HILLS, March 12, (THEWILL) – Reprieve came Monday for two of the 12 soldiers sentenced to death by firing squad by a military court martial set up to try them for offences bordering on mutiny and insubordination last September.
This came as an Appeal Court sitting in Abuja ordered a stay of execution on the death sentence passed on them for conducting themselves contrary to the Armed Forces Act 2004 by the General Court Martial which held at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the 12 soldiers were convicted on September 15, 2014 and were variously sentenced to life imprisonment and death for the respective charges following the trial which commenced earlier on last July.
However, three of the convicted soldiers, CPL Stephen Clement, CPL Igomu Emmanuel and PTE Andrew Ngbede, through their counsel, Chief Godwin Obla, SAN, took their case to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision of the military court .
Raising eleven grounds of appeal each in their separate appeals alleging many fundamental irregularities and improprieties characterising the entire trial at the General Court Martial , the three convicted soldiers asked the court to stay the execution of their sentences pending the hearing and determination of their appeals.
An attempt was however made by the military authorities to frustrate their applications as the authorities blatantly ignored the application and refused to release the record of proceedings at the General Court Martial.
Various attempts by their counsel, Obla, to ensure the release the record of proceedings of the General Court Martial also failed.
But Obla would not give up as he initiated another move last month by taking the matter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for intervention to prevail on the Army to release the record of proceedings to enable him prosecute the appeal of his clients.
The effort also yielded no positive result as the Army still refused to release the document.
But delivering its ruling on the application for stay of execution filed before it by two of the convicted soldiers, CPL Igomu Emmanuel and
PTE Andrew Ngbede, on Monday, the Appeal Court restrained the Nigerian Army or its agents from carrying out the execution of life imprisonment and sentence if death imposed by the General Court Martial and ordered that the convicted soldiers be granted access to their lawyers.
The presiding judge, Justice Abubakar Jega Abdulkadir, also ordered the Nigerian Army to avail the convicted soldiers of the Record of Proceedings of the General Court Marshal which tried and convicted them to enable them compile records for their appeal.
However, the application for stay of execution filed by the third convicted soldier, CPL Stephen Clement, has not been heard as it was not listed on the court's list on the day those of the other convicted soldiers were heard.