The Nigerian Army General Court Martial (GCM) has sentenced Lance Cpl Hillary Joel to death, for allegedly killing a civilian he thought was a Boko Haram terrorist during a cordon and search operation in Damboa, Borno State.
Brig.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, President of the GCM, gave the verdict at a sitting on Friday in Maiduguri. “The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. It is clear that the accused committed the offence, contrary to the Armed Forces Act. The court has found you guilty of the offence of murder; it has listened to the presentation by the prosecution urging that you be treated as a first offender. We have also listened to your plea.
“But the court also considered the need to maintain discipline and sanity in the system, especially as our anti- terrorism war continues. You are hereby sentenced to death”, Adeniyi ruled. He said, however, that the sentence was subject to confirmation by the authority as provided for, by section 141 paragraph I A, of the Armed Forces Act.
Joel was said to have set ablaze a civilian, Mr Wawi Lawan, during a military cordon and search operation in Damboa, on Jan. 26, 2015, leading to his death. The court also sentenced Chima Daniel, a Private, to 15 years imprisonment, for aiding and abetting murder. Daniel was said to have used pepper on a minor, who was under interrogation for alleged theft of a mobile telephone.
The incident, which happened on May 14, 2014 in Zabarmari village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno, led to the death of the boy. Delivering the judgement, Adeniyi declared: “having found you guilty of the charge against you and listened to the prosecution plea to treat you as a first offender, the court hereby sentence you to 15 years imprisonment.
The court also demoted Audu Aliyu, from Corporal to Private, for assaulting three minors without justification, while Balanga Samuel, a Sergeant, was also demoted to a private, for deserting his duty post at the 158 battalion in Kareto, during a suspected Boko Haram attack.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Police Command on Friday said normalcy has been restored after residents protest the killing of a youth by a soldier at the Command Secondary School.