The Nigerian Army, yesterday, said that 579 soldiers were currently facing court martial over various offences.
This is just as the failure of the Army Council to confirm the death sentence passed last year on 66 solders convicted for mutiny by a General Court Martial, GCM, has left the fate of the soldiers in the balance.
Director of Army Public Relations, DAPR, Col. Sani Usman, while briefing the press in Abuja, disclosed that there are two separate court martial going on in the Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja and the 81 Division, Lagos, with a view to ensuring quick dispensation of justice, discipline and professionalism.
Usman said that 473 of the soldiers were facing court martial in Army Headquarters, while 106 were standing trial in 81 Division.
The soldiers’ alleged offences range from insubordination to disobedience, acts of cowardice, refusal to carry out military duties, indiscipline, amongst others.
Usman said it was a common practice in the military that any personnel, who runs foul of the law and who could not be summarily dismissed, must go to the court martial.
Earlier in 2014, 66 soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny, but their lawyers were said to have difficulties appealing the death sentence because the processes have not been completed.
According to military procedure, the Army Council would have to meet and confirm the sentences and if upheld, the lawyers would be at liberty to appeal to a conventional higher court.
However, the DAPR, who confirmed that the Council has not sat, said this was in process.
Considering that the court martial was also depleting the number of personnel prosecuting the war, Usman said the Army was already addressing the issue.
Consequently, more personnel are being added to strengthen the force fighting in the North East.
He said 481 Special Forces, which comprised personnel of the Army, Navy, Air force and the police, have completed their training and inducted into the theatre of operations within the Z Division area of responsibility.
Similarly, one battalion, the 151 battalion, has also completed its training and inducted into the theatre, while two battalions, the 152 and 153 battalions are currently undergoing training and would be inducted on completion.
“Additionally, Army Headquarters Task Force Group is currently in the last phase of their training, while Nigerian Army Armoured School, Bauchi, has intensified training of Tank Crew personnel.
“Moreover, personnel training on Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, in the United Kingdom and United States is ongoing,” Usman said.
He also disclosed that 2, 388 members of 72 Regular Recruits Intake at Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Kaduna State, would pass out on Friday, which would also boost the personnel strength.
Usman attributed recent successes recorded in operations against terrorists and other operations within the country to the infusion of these specially trained personnel.
The Army spokesman said Nigerian Army Administrative Policies and Procedures last reviewed in 2005, has recently been reviewed to be in line with current and future realities.
“To ease the problems associated with retiring Nigerian Army officers, a onestop documentation procedure was devised recently.
“An office of the Deputy Director Retirement and Documentation was established at the Army Headquarters Department of Administration with a 90 day time line of documenting and processing retiring officers’ benefits.
“Similarly, a system of annual update of Nigerian Army personnel next-of-kin has been devised. This is intended to eliminate the hardship hitherto experienced by families and in particular, the next-of-kin of our fallen colleagues.
In April, 20 next-of-kin received cheques for payment of Group Life Insurance entitled to them while a total of 235 next-of-kin benefitted from the special assistance by the office of the National Security Adviser.
“Similarly, over 2000 children of deceased personnel were screened and passed for NA scholarship for 2014/2015 academic session.
“Furthermore, up to 20 families have also benefitted from the official burial expenses within the last month in addition to the Chief of Army Staff’s token which was intended to provide immediate succour to the families,” he added.
In a related development, Nigerian Defence Intelligence, DIA, yesterday, said that it was intensifying its collaboration with international counterparts and other related agencies, towards tracking those financing the activities of Boko Haram within and outside the country.
Chief of Defence Intelligence, CDI, Rear Admiral Gabriel Okoi, made the disclosure in Abuja, while speaking to journalists at the end of the Deputy Defence Advisers/ Attaches/Librarians Training Conference 2015.
Okoi noted that the banking sector has proved a challenge but the security agencies and Federal Government were determined to crack any loophole through which any funding of terrorists might be channelled.