The Coalition of Civil Societies which claimed that the Nigerian Army secretly tried and executed six soldiers of the South-East extraction in Abuja has dared the Nigerian Army authorities to produce the six soldiers hale and hearty, instead of describing its claims as “fake news”.
The coalition, in a release on Wednesday obtained by SaharaReporters, tackled the army for its alleged complicity and silence, saying the coalition stood by their earlier claims that the soldiers, whose names and photographs were also made public, were tried and executed.
Some of the groups which signed the release by the coalition are International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, World Igbo Congress United States, Ala-Igbo Development Foundation, Concerned Elites for Better Society Initiative, and Igbo Board of Deputies, United Kingdom.
The army had on Tuesday described as false, a report that it secretly tried and executed six soldiers in Abuja who were of the South-East extraction after they were found to have committed an infraction.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sagir Musa, in his characteristic manner, had labelled the media reports on the incident as “fake news and mischievous publication” but failed to give details of the whereabouts of the soldiers and what truly transpired.
The coalition had alleged in a press statement on Tuesday that the six soldiers were denied legal representation before their execution, after a hasty secret trial.
The soldiers were said to have been attached to the Armoury Department of the Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, otherwise known as Abacha Barracks, Abuja.
The activists had given the names of those allegedly executed as Prince Ukwuoma, son of a traditional ruler; Ebube Isaiah, Amos Azubuike, Ekene Ebere, Moses Anyim and Godwin Uchendu.
In its reaction, the army tagged the news report as fake and mischievous, although Nigerians have been asking the army authorities to come out clean on the names of the soldiers and the incident in contention.
In another release on Wednesday, the coalition posed 13 questions to the army authorities, noting that it would stand by its claims.
The release partly reads, “The Nigerian Army’s anonymous denial of its involvement with its immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Retired Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, in the secret and most horrendous execution of six soldiers inside the Abacha Barracks in Abuja our purposive admission of criminal responsibility. If it is in criminal court trial, it becomes ‘mens rea proven’. “Barr E.R. Okoroafor, a member of the coalition, challenges the army to not only produce them alive, hale and hearty, but also tell Nigerians and the world what actually happened, including where the army kept them and why they were kept as well as whether they were tried in secret and condemned for secret execution.
“The coalition makes bold to say that uploading montage pictures of the slain soldiers with ‘Fake News’ written over same is in no way a credible and concrete reply and ordinarily should not be taken seriously.
“The Nigerian Army has not provided concrete answers to the following; (1) whether the six slain Igbo Christian soldiers and their names, religion and ethnicity exist in the Army or on its records, (2) whether the four pictures as produced belong to the ascribed serving personnel of the Nigerian Army, (3) whether they were made to undergo any form of trial within the Army, (4) whether they were tried in any manner with the stated allegations.
“(5) whether their trial, if true, was conducted in the presence of their family, legal and medical representatives including allowing them access to lawyers of their choice, (6) whether the six Igbo soldiers were defended by lawyers of their choice, (7) whether they were allowed to exercise their right of appeal to Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and (8) whether the Nigerian Army issued any public statement concerning their trial or notified their beloved ones and the public.”