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. (Read more Nigeria stories.)