Army Sentences Soldier to Prison for Brutalising 10-year-old Boy

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Michael Olugbode
The Nigerian Army yesterday court martialed and sentenced a staff sergeant to two years imprisonment for brutalising a 10-year-old child.

 The staff sergeant, Umar Sule, was charged for brutalising, Mohammed Saleh,10, at Simari Ward, London Chiki area of Maiduguri, Borno State.
The convicted soldier was accused of tying the minor to a pole and beat him severally for about seven hours after he caught him stealing his N2,000.

The boy was said to sustain injuries which led to one of his arms being amputated as a result of the brutality.
Allegations were brought against the soldier by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which led to his court martial and subsequent conviction and de-promotion to the rank of a private.

Delivering judgment, the President of the court set up by the Nigerian army at the 7 Division Maiduguri, Brigadier General Olusegun Adeniyi, said the court arrived at the decision having found the accused, staff sergeant Umar Sule, guilty of the offence, and having listened to the prosecutor urging the court to treat him as first offender, the lead defence counsel plea that the convict served the Nigerian army  for 26 years and enlisted in the service in 1999 as well as served in various conflict missions home and abroad.

He said the defence counsel also argued that the accused was deployed to Operation Lafiya Dole and was willing to serve the Nigerian army and the country dedicatedly and that he has never committed any other offence.

They equally argued that he had showed signs of remorse and pleaded guilty as a family and responsible man and that the court martial should temper justice with mercy after promising he will never be found wanting again.

The court president said he was sentenced based on the Nigerian army rules and laws of 1972 and 1974 respectively on two-count charges subject to confirmation by the confirming authority of the Nigerian army as required by the law.

The military lead prosecutor, Major M.M. Yero, in his remark said he had no objection to the sentence the court read while the lead defence counsel, G. K. Abba, also said he had no objection to the judgment while the NHRC North East Zonal Officer, Jummai Usman Mshelia,  remarked that the proceedings of the court were fair and transparent and in compliance with the rule of law and human rights violation consideration.

She commended the Nigerian army and Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai, for constituting the court martial to give fair hearing to the civil society indicating respect for rule of law and human rights in the activities or operations of the Nigerian army.
Mshelia added that the entire proceedings were transparent and highly appreciated by the NHRC while pledging to forward the verdict of the court to the National headquarters in Abuja for perusal.