Nigeria Sentences 54 'Cowardly' Soldiers to Death
They were accused of refusing to fight Boko Haram
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 17, 2014 10:39 PM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2014 3:59 AM CST
Soldiers accused of refusing to fight Boko Haram militants appear before a court martial in Abuja, Nigeria.   (AP Photo/Olamikan Gbemiga)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Nigeria sentenced 54 soldiers to death yesterday for mutiny, assault, cowardice, and refusing to fight Islamic extremists. The court-martial charges were connected to the soldiers' refusal to deploy to recapture three towns seized by Boko Haram militants in August, according to the charge sheet. The lawyer for the condemned men says the soldiers were convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad. He says five soldiers were acquitted. They all were accused of "conspiring to commit mutiny against the authorities of 7 Division, Nigerian Army," which is on the front line of the fighting in the northeast of the country.

Another 12 soldiers were sentenced to death in September for mutiny and attempted murder of the commanding officer in the counterinsurgency. They blamed him for the deaths of an unknown number of soldiers ambushed and killed after they were ordered to drive at night on a road frequently attacked by the militants. Troops regularly complain that they're outgunned by Boko Haram, they're not paid in full, and they're abandoned on the battlefield without enough ammunition or food.