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Published On: Fri, Aug 10th, 2018

Nigerian Army to execute commanders who flee Boko Haram attacks

The Nigerian Army has threatened to execute commanders who abandon positions or military hardware and flee battles against fighters from the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram.

The threat came following reports that nearly 50 soldiers were killed in Boko Haram attacks on military bases and field targets in just 13 days between July 13 and 26. The attacks also led to the loss of hauls of equipment including light weapons, armoured personnel carriers and various troop supplies.

Nigeria Boko Haram attacks map

Nigeria saw the most Christians murdered by Islamists in 2014
Boko Haram attacks map distrubted in 2012. Photo/wikimedia

Substantial amounts of critical equipment were also destroyed in attacks on military bases. The casualties were from units engaged in “Operation Lafiya Dole”, the military counter-insurgency operation against Boko Haram.

According to a 180-word operational guideline memo circulated to commanders at all levels and formations by Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai on July 27, any commander who abandons a position in the face of enemy fire, leading to the avoidable death of troops or loss of equipment, will be subjected to harsh punishment as prescribed in Section 47 of the Armed Forces Act.

“Recent occurrences in ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ where units abandoned their positions cowardly in the face of action from Boko Haram terrorists, without reasonable resistance, is worrisome and portrayed them as incompetent and cowardly.

“It also has the potential to rubbish all the laudable gains made in the war against Boko Haram. All should be reminded that the law recommends that any officer or soldier found guilty of cowardly behavior shall, on conviction by a court martial, be liable to suffer death or other less punishment provided by the (Armed Forces) Act, depending on the circumstances of the case,” Lt. Gen Buratai said.

However, security analysts have pointed to numerous reports of poor equipment, logistical problems in moving supplies and reinforcements as well as lack of motivation for the draw backs in the fight against Boko Haram. They also noted that Section 47 of the Armed Forces Act also clarifies the conditions under which commanders or troops can abandon positions and hardware to save their lives.

“It shall be a valid defence under this section (47 of the Nigerian Armed Forces Act) if the surrender or abandonment of a place, post or thing by a person charged with its defence is justified by reason of superior order, the utmost necessity such as want of provisions, water, logistic support, the absence of hope or relief, inability to offer further resistance or the certainty or extreme probability that no further efforts could prevent the place, post or thing falling into enemy hands,” the law states.

Author: Oscar Nkala

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