By Michael Olugbode, John Shiklam and Paul Obi
The General Court Martial (GCM) sitting in Maiduguri condemned a soldier, Lance Corporal Hilary Joel to death for killing alleged Boko Haram suspect.
This is as one person was killed following fracas with soldiers at the Command Secondary School Kaduna yesterday.
Â Joel was arraigned before the Brigadier General Olusegun Adeniyi’s General Court Martial sitting at 7 Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, for setting ablaze an alleged Boko Haram suspect in Damboa, southern part of Borno State.
Reading the judgment, General Adeniyi said Joel killed the unarmed alleged Boko Haram suspect with nickname Chemical without provocation.
Also found guilty of various offences bordering on violation of human rights and other operational breaches in the ongoing counter-insurgency operation in the North East are four other soldiers who committed the offences in the Operation LAFIYA DOLE.
Two of soldiers were demoted as they lost a rank each.
The two, Corporal Aliu Audu who was charged for assault was reduced to the rank of Private and Sergeant Samuel Balanga who was convicted for desertion and miscellaneous offences also had his rank reduced to Private.
The court sentenced Private Chima Samuel, who was convicted for aiding and abetting murder of a minor Yakubu Isah in Maiduguri to 15 years imprisonment. Â
Trooper Sunday Ogwuche who was convicted for stealing and unlawful possession of 641 rounds of 7.62mm Special was sentenced to five years imprisonment.Â
The representative of the National Human Rights Commission present in court, Mr. Jumai Usman Mshelia who is the Commission Acting Zonal Coordinator in Borno State commended the Nigerian Army for the transparency in the trial of the accused soldiers.Â
Mshelia, addressing the court after the judgment was read out, expressed delight that the Nigerian Army has shown that it is a discipline organisation and that erring personnel are tried for wrong doing.Â
She said she was happy that justice has been served.
Eye witness account said the death of the civilian occurred was scooping sharp sand from a gully close to the fence separating the Military Secondary School and the Anguwan Romi .
It was learnt that soldiers had been having a running battle with youths from the community over excavation of sand in the area.Â
The soldiers guarding the school were said to have repeatedly warned the youths against encroaching into the school land before they allegedly part of the school land to scoop sand.
However on sighting one of the soldiers, they took to their heels, but the deceased whose name was given as Solomon refused to run.
He was said to have pleaded with the soldier to allow him pack the sand to get something to eat, since he was packing the sand inside gutter that belongs to nobody, but the soldier was said to have been angry and open fire on the deceased. â€Ž
The development sparked an outrage as youths from the vicinity took the corpse to the gate of the school and started protesting that the killer soldier be brought out for justice.Â
They barricaded the entrance of the school and several roads within the area, causing serious traffic gridlock.
Efforts by the police to dislodge them was unsuccessful and a combined team of soldiers and mobile police were deployed to ensure law and order.
Reacting to the incident, the Army said “a soldier of the Division Internal Security Force deployed at Command Secondary School Kaduna opened fire on some youths suspected to have encroached into the school premises. One of the youths was hit and died at the spot.”
The statement signed by Colonel Kingsley Umoh, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division Nigerian Army said “officers have been deployed to the scene of the incidence in response and the Police have also been invited to take control of the situation.”
Speaking at an emergency meeting to resolve the impasse with some traditional rulers and youth leaders from Television community, the representative of the State Governor and coordinator of Operation Yaki, Col. Yakubu Soja (Rtd), assured citizens of the state that government would conduct investigation into the incidence with the sole aim of prosecuting the culprit.
He said, the governor was saddened with the development and appealed for calm among the citizens of the state.
He advised the citizens not to take the law into their hands as the Army Command had commenced the process of penalising the Soldier that shot dead the civilian.