Buhari pardons ex-military commander convicted of Boko Haram raid

President Muhammadu Buhari has granted a state pardon to Enitan Ransome-Kuti, a former military commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force, who was convicted by a special court-martial in January 2015. Mr. Ransome-Kuti is the son of the late human rights activist, Beko Ransome-Kuti, and the nephew of the late Afrobeat master, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. The former military commander was among 162 prisoners pardoned by the National Council of State at a meeting chaired by the Nigerian leader on Thursday. Mr. Ransome-Kuti was arrested in early 2015 and tried by a special court-martial for cowardice while serving as Commander of a Multinational Joint Task Force in Baga. The former officer was subsequently punished for his “failure to perform his military duties” and sentenced to six months in prison and reduced in rank from brigadier general to colonel. Enitan Ransome Kuti PREMIUM TIMES understands that Mr. Ransome-Kuti, who was discharged from the military after his conviction in 2015, was pardoned on compassionate grounds. Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, who is a Senior Defender of Nigeria, was her lawyer and more than 60 soldiers in the Special Court Martial wrote letters calling for her punishments to be overturned. Later, the Army Council would annul Mr. Ransome Kuti’s six-month prison sentence and commute the other 60 soldiers’ death sentences to 10 years’ imprisonment according to Mr. Falana’s letters. Falana also wrote to other relevant authorities, including the presidential committee on the prerogative of clemency, requesting his pardon. The lead attorney argued that his clients’ court-martial conviction was baseless in the face of evidence that they were deprived of arms to fight at the height of the Boko Haram war. The full list of those pardoned is not immediately available, but sources confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that soldiers convicted of mutiny made up the majority of them. The sources also said that the beneficiaries include a former army lieutenant colonel, Oluwole Akinyole, who was granted a posthumous pardon, and a former military general and minister under the Sani Abacha regime, Tajudeen Olanrewaju. ALSO READ: Buhari Pardons Former Dariye Governors, Nyame Serves Jail For Corruption; 157 others Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday, Falana said the implication of the pardon is that Ransome-Kuti, 57, can return to duty and regain his rank of brigadier general. “With this pardon, the conviction record of the other soldiers has been erased and they can return to duty if they wish,” Falana added. Bottom The Nigerian military charged Mr. Ransome-Kuti and four other senior officers before a special court, blaming them for the loss of Baga in Borno state to Boko Haram insurgents in January 2015. The Army said officers failed to repel a Boko Haram attack on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) headquarters in Baga. Ransome-Kuti was the commander of the multinational force during the attack. During his trial, the officer denied all charges and his lawyer argued that the Nigerian military failed in its duty to provide the necessary equipment in the war against the insurgency. On October 15, 2015, a military court martial in Abuja convicted Mr. Ransome Kuti of alleged crimes during the war against Boko Haram, a sentence that earned him a six-month prison term. Following his conviction and imprisonment, his lawyer, Mr. Falana, applied for Mr. Ransome-Kuti’s release pending the resolution of his appeal, a request that was rejected by the military authorities. Subsequently, Mr. Falana petitioned the Army authorities demanding his release, saying that his client was still in prison custody despite having served his sentence. Falana said the army’s refusal to release his client, who had served his 6-month prison sentence on February 15, 2016, was a violation of Section 160 of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Failed appeal to the Presidential Investigative Panel By 2017, Mr. Ransome-Kuti and other military officers convicted and sentenced to various categories of punishment by various courts-martial appealed to the Presidential Inquiry Panel to Review the Armed Forces’ Compliance with Human Rights, Obligations and Rules Commitment to listen to their complaints against Nigerians. Army. advertisements The soldiers claimed to have been illegally tried and sentenced by a court-martial for demanding weapons for counter-insurgency operations in the northeastern region. In a petition on behalf of his clients, Falana urged the panel to recommend to President Muhammadu Buhari that he grant them clemency. He said his clients were not requesting that the panel sit as an appellate court on the court-martial decision, but were only seeking to explore the platform provided by the panel to secure presidential clemency. Falana said his argument was in accordance with section 198 of the Armed Forces, as well as section 175 of the Constitution, which empowered the president to grant clemency to anyone convicted in Nigeria without conditions and regardless of whether those convicted had or no pending appeals. According to him, his clients’ complaints bordered on the violation of their rights by the military. However, the seven-person panel refused to listen to Falana’s clients’ requests. They expressed doubts as to whether they had jurisdiction to hear soldiers’ complaints that bordered on military court decisions with pending appeals against those decisions in the Court of Appeal. Falana insisted that the panel had jurisdiction to hear the complaints, while the Nigerian military’s lawyer argued otherwise. The panel, on September 12, 2017, rejected the soldiers’ petitions on the grounds that their matters were pending appeal to the Court of Appeal. The panel added that such a request was outside its terms of reference. He noted that the issue of the soldiers’ request for clemency had already been raised with President Buhari and was already being addressed by the Presidency. He argued that the president should be allowed to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion without any interference from the panel. Presidential pardon granted Five years after the presidential pardon was presented to President Buhari, the state council on Thursday recommended presidential pardon for 26 inmates and 85 ex-convict survivors, PREMIUM TIMES gathered. At least 27 inmates and one deceased ex-convict were recommended for presidential clemency. Other recipients are 13 inmates recommended for reduced sentences and 10 inmates recommended for reduced sentences from death row to life in prison. The Council of State of Nigeria is an organ of the Government of Nigeria as stipulated in the Third Schedule Part 1B of the Constitution of 1999 (modified). Council membership includes the President, who is President; the Vice President, who is the Vice President; all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of Government of the Federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all the Governors of the states of the Federation; and the Attorney General of the Federation. Read More Related News Here Let here it in the comment below if you do have an opinion on this; Buhari pardons ex-military commander convicted of Boko Haram raid