The Nigerian military on Monday commenced the court martial of a Brigadier General, Enitan Ransome-Kuti, and four other senior officers, for the loss of Baga in Borno State, to Boko Haram insurgents in January. Mr. Ransome-Kuti, his Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel G.A. Suru, commanding Officers of the 134 and 174 Battalions, Lieutenant Colonel Haruna and Major Aliyu, were arrested for failing to repel Boko Haram attack on the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in Baga.
Sources have it that authorities were angry with Brigadier General Ransome-Kuti for his inability to lead his troop to counter the terrorist sect in Baga, despite the high calibre weapons at his disposal.
The senior officers were held at the officers’ mess of the 21 Armoured Brigade, while being asked to account for the weapons they lost to the insurgent group. The trial took place at the Defence Headquarters garrison in Abuja, on Monday, well represented by the counsels of the Femi Falana chambers.
According to Premium times, the team told the court that Mr. Minimah had made it clear that he wanted the accused officers to be severely punished to serve as a warning to others who may abandon their duty posts. In an interview with the army chief, he said;
“The soldier knows that if he runs away he will be dismissed. So everybody was prepared to stand and fight and die, because if you run back there is nothing. And for the fact that they stood and fought back for hours instead of running caught the Boko Haram by surprise…and terrified them,” Mr. Minimah had said in the ThisDay interview.
The army chief said, “At one point these equipment came in, and with my personal effort of ensuring that officers and soldiers were court-martialed, dismissed for running in the face of adversaries, for abandoning the equipment we have and running away and so forth, the psyche of the Nigerian soldier changed.”
Officials also told Premium times that as of Tuesday, the accused officers were not yet aware of what charges were filed against them.
The court-martial is the second involving senior officers in the fight against Boko Haram, as those affected by previous trials since 2014, were mostly non-commissioned personnel, many of who were either sacked or sentenced to death.
The officers included a Brigadier-General – J.O Komolafe; 14 Colonels – A. Laguda, V. Ebhaleme, V.O. Ita, and I.B. Maina, I. A Aboi, I.M Kabir, M.H. Abubakar, A. A. Egbejule, N. N. Orok, C. A. Magaji, A.O. Agwu, A.J.S. Gulani, O.O. Obolo and A.M. Adetuyi; one Major – M.M Idris; five Captains – M Adamu, O. A. Adenaike, M. Gidado, M.M. Clark and S. Raymond and one Second Lieutenant – S.O Olowa.
In December 2014, 54 soldiers were sentenced to death for conspiracy to commit mutiny and mutiny. The Army said the soldiers disobeyed a direct order from their superior officers to take part in an operation. The soldiers however said they only asked for support equipment before embarking on the operation.
Twelve other soldiers had been previously sentenced to death by firing squad for shooting at a car conveying their commanding officer, Ahmed Mohammed, a Major General.
The soldiers revolted after some of their colleagues were ambushed and killed by Boko Haram extremists, an attack they blamed on their superior officer.