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Death Sentence: Convicted Soldiers Drag Nigerian Army Before Appeal Court

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, October 12, (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Army has been dragged before the Court of Appeal in Abuja over the death sentence passed on 12 soldiers recently by a military court martial.

Dragging the Nigerian Army before the Appellate Court were three soldiers out of the 12 sentenced to death as they seek to challenge the verdict passed on them and thereby seeking a reversal of the death sentence.

The soldiers, Igomu Emmanuel, Stephen Clement and Andrew Ngbede with service numbers 09NA/62/1648/LCPL, 03NA/53/1816/CPL and 09NA/64/4214/PTE respectively, instituted the case at the Appeal Court last Thursday through their counsel, Chief Godwin Obla (SAN).

According to the appeal, which contained 11 grounds, the three convicted soldiers argued that the General Court Martial erred in law and came to a perverse decision by convicting them in respect of the offence of conspiracy and failed to consider the defense of alibi which they raised timeously but which was never investigated by the court martial.

According to the first ground of the appeal ,”The General Court Martial erred in law and thus occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it disregarded the objection of the defence counsel raised before and at the arraignment of the appellant on the defective nature of the charge brought against the appellants.”

Stating the error in the first ground  of their appeal, the soldiers maintained that they were charged and convicted at large under section 114 of the Armed Forces Act as the charge did not tie the offence they allegedly committed to any of the subsections of section 114 of the Armed Forces Act and that the section did not define the offence of criminal conspiracy as an offence known to law.

They insisted that count 1 under which they were charged and convicted was ambiguous, uncertain and defective as they were charged under section 114 of the Armed Forces Act and punished under section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law.

The soldiers also contended that count 3 under was equally uncertain and defective as they were charged under section 95 of the Armed Forces Act which provides a punishment of life imprisonment if convicted but were punished and sentenced to death under section 106 of the Armed Forces Act.

They also maintained that the entire charge upon which they were tried and convicted was vague, disjointed, imprecise and so incoherent that they did not understand the charge neither were their individual names stated on the charge .

They therefore argued that it was in breach of the provisions of section 36 (6) of the Nigerian Constitution which entitles them to be informed of the details and nature of the offence for which they were charged.

They insisted that this incoherent and disjointed nature of the charge upon which they were tried and convicted infringed on their fundamental rights.

On the second ground of the appeal, the soldiers averred that the General Court Martial erred in law and thus came to a perverse decision when it based its decision solely on an equivocal, indirect, negative, uncorroborated and suspicious circumstantial evidence in convicting them for attempt to commit murder.

They claimed that the GOC of 7 Division, Major General Ahmadu Mohammed (N/7915) whom they allegedly attempted to murder by firing shots at his official vehicle which hit the right rear door where he sat, was never led by the prosecution to give evidence on the alleged attempt on his life at their trial. They also said no ballistic evidence was led at their trial to show that it was their shot that hit the rear of the car in issue.

They also contended that none of the witnesses at their trial clearly and unequivocally identified any of them as the person who shot at the vehicle of Major General Ahmadu Mohammed and that the General Court Martial merely relied on circumstantial evidence which did not lead conclusively and indisputably that any of their shots was one, if any, that hit the rear right door of his vehicle.

They therefore urged the court to allow their appeal, set aside the decision of the General Court Martial and to discharge and acquit them.

They also prayed the court to order the payment of dues and outstanding peculiarly benefits or otherwise accruing to them.

‎The Appeal Court has however not fixed any date for the hearing of the appeal.