Renowned Lagos lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) has labelled as discriminatory, inequitable and illegal, the decision of the special court-martial sitting in Abuja to continue with the trial of Brigadier-General Ransome-Kuti.
He lamented that despite the recent announcement that the cases of the convicted and dismissed soldiers and the ongoing trials before courts-martial would be reviewed, the special court-martial trying Ransome-Kuti again sat last week.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana also urged the Chief of Army Staff, General Umar Yussuf Buratai to confirm the cases of the 70 soldiers who were sentenced to death between September and December last year to enable them to file for appeal.
He said about 1,000 soldiers were jailed for mutiny arising from their legitimate demand for arms and ammunition to confront the Boko Haram sect, adding that they have suffered under the dehumanising conditions in which they are being kept.
He said, “As if the official cruelty meted out to the soldiers was not enough, General Minimah, as the confirmed authority, refused to review the findings and sentences passed on the convicted soldiers which ought to have been done within 60 days of the verdict of the courts-martial.
“By refusing to promulgate and confirm the said findings, the ex-chief of army staff has denied the convicted soldiers the constitutional right of appeal.
“Instead of transferring them to prison as required by law, the army authorities have kept the convicted soldiers incommunicado in dehumanising conditions in an underground cell in Apapa, Lagos. Even their family members and lawyers have been denied access to them without any justification.”
Falana regretted that even though the charge of cowardly behaviour had been struck out by the military court based on the defendants’ no case submission, the case has been further adjourned to September 2, 2015 for continuation of trial.