Three of the 12 soldiers sentenced last month to death by the Military General Court-Martial
have appealed against the judgement at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal.
The appellant soldiers are Igomu Emmanuel, Stephen Clement and Andrew Ngbede with service numbers 09NA/62/1648/LCPL, 03NA/53/1816/CPL and 09NA/64/4214/PTE respectively.
They are contending that the charge, which formed the basis on which they were sentenced to death, was defective but that their trial also offended the principle of fair hearing, natural justice and audi alteram partem.
The Military General Court-Martial is a special court that tries people over infraction of military laws.
Its verdict is appealable to the Supreme Court.
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will soon examine the appeal to confirm if fundamental ingredients of fair trial were observed in the case.
An Abuja-based lawyer and member of the inner bar, Chief Godwin Oblah (SAN), is handling the case for the convicted soldiers.
The appeal itself was filed in Abuja last week Thursday at the registry of the Abuja Court of Appeal
The appeal, which is anchored on 11 grounds, is inviting the intermediate appellate court to reverse the death verdict on them.
They invited the appellate court to hold that the General Court Martial erred in law and thus occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it disregarded the objection of the defence counsel raised before and at the arraignment of the appellant on the defective nature of the charge brought against the appellant.
Specifically, they noted that they were charged and convicted at large under Section 114 of the Armed Forces Act but that the charge did not tie the offence they allegedly committed to any of the sub-sections of Section 114 of the Armed Forces Act and that the section did not define the offence of criminal conspiracy as an offence known to law.
They also argued that Count 1 under which they were charged and convicted was ambiguous, uncertain and defective as they were charged under Section 114 of the Armed Forces Act and punished under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law.
Furthermore, they contended that the Count 3 under which they were charged was equally uncertain and defective as they were charged under Section 95 of the Armed Forces Act, which provides a punishment of life imprisonment if convicted, but were punished and sentenced to death under Section 106 of the Armed Forces Act.
They alleged that the entire charge upon which they were tried and convicted was vague, so disjointed, imprecise and so incoherent that they did not understand the charge, neither were their individual names stated on the charge.
The soldiers argued that it was in breach of the provisions of Section 36 (6) of the Nigerian Constitution, which entitles them to be informed of the details and nature of the offence for which they were charged.
They insisted that this incoherent and disjointed nature of the charge upon which they were tried and convicted infringed on their fundamental rights.
According to the second grounds of the appeal, the soldiers averred that the General Court Martial erred in law and came to a perverse decision when it based its decision solely on an equivocal, indirect, negative, uncorroborated and suspicious circumstantial evidence in convicting them for attempt to commit murder.
They said that the General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Maj.-Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed (N/7915), whom they allegedly attempted to murder by firing shots at his official vehicle, was never led by the prosecution to give evidence on the alleged attempt on his life at the trial and there was no ballistic evidence that he was shot at.
The appellants also contended that none of the witnesses at the trial clearly and unequivocally identified any of them as the person who shot at the vehicle of Maj.-Gen. Mohammed and that the General Court Martial merely relied on circumstantial evidence.
Besides, they prayed that the Appeal Court should set aside the decision of the Military General Court Martial and discharge and acquit them.
They also prayed to the court to order the payment of dues and outstanding peculiar benefits or otherwise accruing to them.
However, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the appeal.
In May, some protesting soldiers had fired shots at the vehicle of the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 7th Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed, in Maiduguri, Borno State, and were subsequently charged.
The court-martial found them guilty of mutiny and sentenced 12 of the protesting soldiers to death.