Fela Kuti Nephew Jailed Over Boko Haram Arms Case

Lagos (AFP) - A senior Nigerian army officer and nephew of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti has been jailed for six months for allowing weapons to fall into the hands of Boko Haram Islamists during a deadly attack, his lawyer said on Friday.

Brigadier General Enitan Ransome-Kuti was convicted at a five-member court martial in Abuja on Thursday for "loss of equipment" during the attack in Baga, Borno state, in January.

The officer was also convicted of failure to discharge his duties but cleared of a third count of "cowardly behaviour", Femi Falana told AFP.

The attack on Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, saw hundreds of Boko Haram fighters overrun and destroy the town and surrounding villages, including a military base.

Militants were later seen in a propaganda video picking through the armoury at the base, which was used by troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

Hundreds of people were said to have been killed in what has been seen as the Islamists worst atrocity in the six-year insurgency, although even now there is no exact death toll.

Falana said Ransome-Kuti had been in custody for six months and should be released for time served but the conviction and sentence had to be confirmed first by a military panel.

An appeal would be lodged, he said, as it was "contradictory" to convict his client of losing equipment but clear him of cowardly behaviour.

"Boko Haram outnumbered his men. They had more superior weapons than the unserviceable equipment of the Nigerian Army" which prompted the withdrawal, Falana added.

In September 2014, 12 Nigerian soldiers were sentenced to death for mutiny after shots were fired at their commanding officer in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

The following December, 54 other soldiers were sentenced to death for refusing to deploy for an operation against Boko Haram.

In May this year, the military said 579 officers and soldiers were on trial over indiscipline linked to the conflict.

The cases, most of which have been heard behind closed doors, emerged after complaints of poor equipment and morale in the army against the better-equipped rebels.

Conditions are said to have improved since the start of this year, with new procurement and investment that has put Boko Haram on the back foot.

That has prompted calls for a review of soldiers facing charges.

Source: AFP
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