The Nigerian Army Council has reversed its decision on Brigadier General Enitan Ransome-Kuti, a former Commander of the Multi National Joint Task Force, who was convicted by a military court and sentenced to six months imprisonment from a dismissal to a demotion.
The late Fela’s nephew was demoted to the rank of a Colonel – a rank below his original rank.
This new decision was contained in a circular dated March 1, 2016 and signed by Col. O. N. Taiwo on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
Excerpts from the Army Council’s circular reads:
A Special Court Martial (SCM) was convened vide reference A to try the above named senior officer. He was arraigned on a three-count charges for Failure to perform military duties and miscellaneous offences Relating to service property.
He was tried but was discharged and acquitted on count 1. He was however found guilty on count 2 and 3 by the SCM that tried him. He was thus awarded dismissal from the army on count 2 and six months imprisonment on count 3.
Consequently, I am directed to inform you that reference B has conveyed to this Headquarters that the army council in its last meeting on February 22, 2016, confirmed the conviction of the accused senior officer on count two but commuted the sentence of dismissal to reduction in rank from Brigadier-General to Colonel with four years seniority WEF October 15, 2015.
The council also quashed the finding of guilt and the award of six months imprisonment by the SCM on count three and replaced same with finding of “not guilty”. The senior officer was thus discharged and acquitted on count three WEF October 15, 2015.
Accordingly, I am directed to request AHQ GAR to release the senior officer from close custody. I am also to request AHQ MS to post him out of jurisdiction.
Mr. Ransome-Kuti, a Brigadier–General, was sentenced to six months imprisonment by a Special Court Martial on October 15, 2015, for alleged offences during the war against Boko Haram.
He was punished for “cowardly behavior” and for “failure to perform military duties” after Boko Haram militants captured 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.”
The senior officer who was represented by the Lagos-based lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), was also alleged to have upon investigations, failed to account for the arms and ammunition under his supervision.
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.
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.