Nigerian dilemma; when is mutiny justified? - Lucabracee

The last two days have been one of those terribly busy days for me at work, from presentations to project deadlines culminating in a serio...


The last two days have been one of those terribly busy days for me at work, from presentations to project deadlines culminating in a serious and critically engaging meeting with three Ogas at the top that I had to defend my presentation in front of, suffice to say I reached for several cups of water before I was done. When I emerged I was not only physically fizzled out but mentally more so, all I wanted was to get home warm the 5 slices of pizza in my fridge and lose myself to the world.

My good buddy while chatting on blackberry messenger asked me casually if I had seen the news of the twelve mutiny soldiers sentenced to death and I replied in the affirmative ensuing discourseprompted me in spite of my Physical and mental fatigue to start working on this piece just to while away the time while on the train home.

For the benefit of those who have not read the news or live in the real world of everyday hustle and bustle totally removed from social media's alternate universe, it was reported that twelve Nigerian soldiers mainly lower rank were sentenced to death by a court martial while a further five were found innocent of charges proffered against them hence set free, in the wake of this frankly shocking news ensued the predictable shocks and awe. Who would not be considering these are armed forces defending the nation and only asking for their legitimate rights being sentenced to death.

While recriminations have been flying to and fro, from the native genius of self-appointed military experts to the honest and the flawed pragmatism of social commentators on both sides of the divide as it were, within the core of the issues safely ensconced where most either did not bother to delve and dredge it up because it does not fit into their contrived politically biased narratives nor even a cursory research into the starkly legal exegesis throughout the world.

To clarify my stance while I totally empathise with the terrible state I will even go as far as saying abhorrent conditions which the soldiers are serving under, while one cannot in good conscience justify soldiers fighting and dying for us being paid less than some public sector workers in the lowest grades and feeding more so, in addition to this the incongruous circumstances surrounding Army Drs going on strike for non-payment of salaries. In spite of these noted and acknowledged reasons however professional soldiers should be held to higher standards than normal civilians, resorting to mutiny to emphasise or strive for their demands is at variance with any appreciable conduct in a work place much less a profession which prides itself on honour discipline and a sound adherence to hierarchical structure of unquestioning command and obedience.

This ill-advised and malevolent action not only dishonours the time tested bravery of those who had worn that uniform before them, who have bled blood and gore in defence of our nation and that uniform, but it also speaks to an apparent and obvious graffiti of peripheral judgement and the lack of a sense of conflict resolution it infers a mind-set lacking in hierarchical discipline.

At the best of times such nefarious infractions are always stamped out and swiftly and ruthlessly dealt with by armed forces command around the world, at a time where the nation is confronted with a dangerous and palpable state of pervasive insecurity no thanks to BH insurgency and surrounding issues, the worst thing for any armed forces to be battling with no matter what is insurrection in their ranks. The implication of not sending a swift and fervent message to the minority remaining who might be considering similar can be better imagined than experienced besides it must be noted that there are laid out procedures for complaints of these sorts including any conflict resolution in the Armed forces.

Armed forces all over the world due to the sinister nature of mutiny I dare say malignant when left to fester from time immemorial to the present time have taken a very serious stance to it, I have undertaken a cursory look at the military laws governing armed forces in several countries and it aligns with that obtained with the Nigeria armed forces, however restricting to two instances we pride on their adherence to human rights paraphrasing the wording of the United stated of America as regards what constitutes mutiny and the sentence

" The United States' Uniform Code of Military Justice defines mutiny thus:
Art. 94. (§ 894.) 2004 Mutiny or Sedition.
(a) Any person subject to this code (chapter) who—
(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;
(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;
(3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.
(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.....

I further did a cursory interface with the United Kingdom as regards mutiny and the sentence prescribed for same again paraphrasing for clarity

" Until 1998 mutiny, and another offence of failing to suppress or report a mutiny, were each punishable with death.[2] Section 21(5) of the Human Rights Act 1998 completely abolished the death penalty in the United Kingdom.

Having stated the foregoing it is pertinent to note the convicted soldiers have neither exhausted their rights of appeal under the law, hence still have a way to go yet before final conclusion. It is also important to note that going by past case laws as regards similar circumstances, it is most likely that the sentence will be committed to a more lenient one.

We must take cognisance of the fact that standing military codes, rigid laws and edicts which govern the armed forces of any country the world over is not subject to Political, ethnic or even religious bias hence they are not expected to be swayed by emotional response or any other considerations of either their colleagues or we civilians, this is why most court martials are closed off to the public and civilians most times not allowed to sit in even as observers.


Discipline more than the weapons more than the equipment or any other considerations no matter how important is the overriding trait that must be inherent in any soldier, the lack of this discipline degenerating to the extent of mutiny not only endangers their colleagues fighting side by side in the trenches, it also endangers the whole unit or battalion and by extension the whole area under their purview and the nation as a whole.


First published: A Different Nuance from the Status Quo

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