The Nigerian Army Council has recommended the release from jail and demotion of Enitan Ransome-Kuti, the former Commander of the Multi National Joint Task Force, who was convicted by a military court and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
The council also recommended that Mr. Ransome-Kuti be reabsorbed into service and deployed, Saharareporters reported Wednesday, citing a confidential army memo.
Mr. Ransome-Kuti, a Brigadier – General, was sentenced by a Special Court Martial on October 15, 2015, for alleged offences during the war against Boko Haram.
He was punished for “cowardly behaviour” and for “failure to perform military duties” after Boko Haram militants overran a heavily fortified military base in Baga, north eastern Nigeria, on January 3, 2015.
Mr. Ransome-Kuti was also found guilty of “miscellaneous offences relating to service property.
After his conviction and imprisonment, his lawyer, Femi Falana, requested Mr. Ransome-Kuti’s release pending the determination of his appeal, a request that was turned down by the military authorities.
On Monday, Mr. Falana petitioned the Army authorities demanding his freedom, saying his client was still held in prison custody despite completing his jail term.
He insisted Mr. Ransome-Kuti was “unjustly convicted” by the court martial.
“As the findings of the Special Court Martial are subject to the confirmation of the appropriate authority we made a strong representation to the Army Council on behalf of our client,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated in the petition dated February 26.
“By letter dated 19 October, 2015, we also requested the Authorities of the Nigerian Army to release our client from military custody pending the determination of the appeal which he intended to file against the unjust findings of the Special Court Martial which convicted him of war related crimes and sentenced him to 6-month imprisonment and dismissal from the Nigerian Army.”
Mr. Falana said the army’s refusal to release his client was a violation of Section 160 of the Armed Forces Act (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“Thus, you caused our client to serve the 6-month prison term without the confirmation of the findings of the Special Court Martial by the Army Council,” he said.
“As if that was not enough, you have ignored our demand for the release of our client since he completed the 6-month prison term on February 15, 2016.
It was not clear whether the recommendations of the council would be upheld. The army spokesperson could not immediately be reached.