Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the death sentence on 12 soldiers by the Brig. Gen. CC Okonkwo led nine-man General Court Martial. It is the height of crudity and insensitivity for the affected soldiers to be sentenced to death for protesting against a command that sent them to the warfront in the face of huge numbers of avoidable deaths of soldiers, poor working conditions and absence of effective logistics and weaponry. This is likened to Adolf Hitler’s army!

It will be recalled that these soldiers protested on 14 of May 2014 at Maimalari Cantonment, Maiduguri when the General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Major General Ahmed Mohammed, ordered soldiers to embark on a journey to fight Boko Haram with inadequate fire power, inadequate logistical support, no broad fighting plan as well as poor working/fighting conditions. These soldiers were further infuriated on sighting the body bags of tens of soldiers killed by Boko Haram fighters with superior firearms in Chibok that were being brought back to the barracks almost at the same time they were ordered to embark on another suicide mission.

The SPN does not support indiscipline, including harassment of civilians by the military or police. However, soldiers like every other professional have a mind of their own and have a right to protest against unpalatable working/fighting conditions. Soldiers are no robots/zombies and should be treated with decency! Hence, the Military High Command should stop using the rank and file military personnel as cannon fodder. We also demand trade union rights to all military and police personnel to enable them defend their common interest.

We recall that a similar fate befell 27 soldiers out of hundreds of soldiers who protested the stealing of their money on July 4, 2008 in Akure, Ondo State and were handed life sentences by the nine-man General Court Martial led by Brigadier-General Ishaya Bauka. These soldiers participated in the United Nations Peace Keeping for 6 months and were to earn $1,228 monthly and a total allowance of $7,368 but were paid $3,000 by the Nigeria military. In a face-saving tactics, the military authority demoted the 4 senior military officers who allegedly stole the money by one rank! Under public pressure and criticism, the military commuted the life sentence to 7 years imprisonment.

No doubt, the morale of the rank and file military officers is low due to a number of reasons such as inadequate weapons to fight with, little or no logistical support, poor knowledge of the terrain, poor living and fighting condition, unjustified increasing wealth and privileges of the top military officers etc. The SPN expects that the Nigeria Military should have addressed the complaints of the soldiers and not condemning them to death.

The smuggling of $9.3m into South Africa has shown clearly that the Nigeria top military officers and the ruling elite are busy chasing arms deal, siphoning and laundering money meant for development abroad while ill motivated soldiers are daily forced into suicide missions and the vast majority of the working masses are condemned to hopelessness and more poverty.

The SPN strongly feels that fighting insecurity and insurgency in an atmosphere of hopelessness, growing poverty, poor infrastructure, demoralization without addressing the root cause amounts to fighting the symptoms. The crisis of insecurity is a product of the unjust capitalist system that breeds inequality, corruption, poverty and misery. Hence, it is not possible to sustainably fight crime and insecurity without resolving the socio-economic and political inequality.

The SPN has canvassed for a well-organized, adequately funded and democratically controlled community policing/response to insurgency and crime as the most effective way of fighting crime. This community response should be under the control of elected representatives of workers and community residents and must unite the people of all religion, tribes and ethnicity in order to prevent sectarianism and divisions amongst these communities.

We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to spearhead a struggle to free the 12 soldiers. SPN hereby demands the immediate and unconditional freedom and reinstatement of the affected soldiers.

Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]