Soldier Gets Demotion, Three Years Imprisonment Over Unlawful Assault

Court martial room

The military Court Martial seating in Maiduguri has sentenced one Staff Sergeant Umar Sule to three years in prison over unlawful assault on a ten year old in Maiduguri.

The convicted soldier was also demoted from the rank of a staff sergeant to a private soldier.

The Nation recalls that the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division, Brigadier General Victor Ezugwu on Wednesday August 10, 2016,   set up a General Court Martial to try four officers and 16 soldiers for various offences ranging from criminal sales of arms to non-military persons as well as abuse of human rights in the ongoing war against Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria.

Brigadier General Ezugwu at the inauguration  said he has to issue   a convening order for a  General Court Martial “following the directives from Army Headquarters that a standing GCM be set up for Operation Lafiya to try offences committed by personnel within the Theatre of Operation”.

“This GCM is therefore convened to try a total of 4 officers and 16 other ranks of the Nigeria Army who have committed various offences within the Theatre of Operation Lafiya Dole”, said the GOC.

Delivering judgment, the President of the Court Martial Brig. Gen. Gabriel Adeniyi pronounced his judgment quoting relevant military laws and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria sentenced the convict on two count charges which include unlawful assault of a minor and disobedience to standing military orders.

The verdict reads:    “Staff Sergeants Umar Sule, having found you guilty of the charges against you and having listen to the presentation of the prosecution urging this court to treat you as a first offender and the counsel’s touching plea to litigation, we have also look at the various punishment provided by both section 104 of sub section 2d of armed forces act cap A 20 laws of the federation 2004 as well as section 119 of armed forces act cap A 20 laws of the federation 2004.

“This court also considers the need to ensure discipline in the system. This court hereby sentences you as follows: “On count one; three years imprisonment. On count two- reduced to private. This sentence is however subject to confirmation by the confirming authority as provided by section 141 sub-sections 2 and section 152 sub-section 1A of the armed forces act cap A20 law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004”.

Speaking after the judgment, representative of the Human Right Commission, Barr. Jumai Usman Mshelia said she is satisfied with the judgment.

According to her, “I believe that all the parties in this case have gotten justice. This judgment demonstrates the discipline and transparency of the army that anybody can get justice no matter who you are, poor or rich,” Barr. Mshelia said.

The father of the boy Usman Mohammed also said he is satisfied with the judgment. He however called on the government to assist in the upbringing of the boy whose two hands have now been severed due to the torture by the convict.

Ten years old Mohammed Saleh, the victim was said to have been arrested by the soldier for allegedly stealing his N2000. The demoted soldier according to the father of the boy tied his hands for more than eight hours which caused serious injuries to the hand leading to the amputation of one of the hand while the remaining hand still remains non-Functional.

The court has been adjourned to 20th October, 2016 where two Captains and one Major would be put on trial.

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