LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s military announced a reprieve Saturday for 66 soldiers sentenced to death by firing squad for mutiny and trying to kill their commanding officer in the war on Boko Haram, commuting their sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Army chief Gen. Tukur Buratai made the decision after ordering a legal review of secret courts-martial held last year under his predecessor, according to a Ministry of Defense statement.
The 66 mutinied after dozens of fellow soldiers died in a Boko Haram ambush, when they were ordered against their will to drive down a dangerous road at night.
Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers have deserted, complaining that they are not properly equipped to fight Boko Haram. Several soldiers told The Associated Press they were sent into battle with just 30 bullets each and no food rations.
The military is also reviewing the cases of other soldiers accused of desertion and other charges, including 579 put on secret trial in May, the statement said. It did not say if the reviews include Brig. Gen. Enitan Ransome Kuti — a nephew of Afrobeat music legend Fela Ransome-Kuti — who was dismissed from the army in October and sentenced to six months’ jail for losing a major battle in which Boko Haram killed hundreds of civilians.
The reprieves come as a former presidential adviser is on trial for allegedly embezzling $2.1 billion meant to buy weapons to fight Boko Haram.
President Muhammadu Buhari fired all the military chiefs after he won March elections. Goodluck Jonathan lost the vote in part because of his government’s failure to curb Boko Haram’s 6-year-old Islamic uprising, that has killed about 20,000 people, and to rescue more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.
Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of people and driven 2.3 million from their homes.
MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press
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