Amoo Bukola, an ex-soldier, recently released with others from the Maximum Security Prisons, Kirikiri in Lagos has narrated how he and others were tortured, jailed and sentenced to death by the army authorities for demanding better weapons to fight Boko Haram terrorists.
Bukola disclosed this in a recent interview with PM News, expressing hope that he will be reinstated in the army.
He gave details of how he joined the Nigerian Army and what led to his imprisonment alongside 53 others.
Bukola narrated how he began his military career, saying, “I joined the Nigerian Army fully on the 6th of August 2012 after completing six months’ training and eventually passing out of the training on the 21st of December 2012.
“After passing out from the Depot, I was posted to NATRAC Kotangora in Niger State for training as a (member of the) Counter-Terrorist Special Force and Quick Response Group (QRG).
“There I was trained for four months, commencing from the 3rd January through to 19th April 2013.
“Thereafter, I was then posted to 101 Special Force battalion at Kainji, Niger State. After the posting, I was then nominated to go for training in Pakistan, there, I was trained for two months between 13th July and 13th of September 2013.
“I also had the Anti-Terrorist Training (ATT) commando course 43. Two days after my arrival from Pakistan, I was appointed to go for Operation Zama Lafiya in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“We took off from 101 battalion special force camp to Abuja on the 15th of September 2013, for operation. We were about one hundred and eighteen soldiers (118) that went for the operation and we went at a company level named ‘Army Headquarters Special Force Company.’
“We finally left Abuja on the 18th of September, 2013. We transited at Damaturu where we slept in Yobe State till the following morning. We then moved to Maiduguri. We arrived at 7 division Garrison in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“We were deployed to several places like Bulaburi Damboa, Bulaburi garna, Mafindi, Balle, Chinese, Ngwoshe, Gwosa, Cashew Plantation at the back of How’s barracks, Asigashia Cameroon, and Mulai primary school along Damboa Road, adjacent AIT, Maiduguri, Borno State.
“On the 9th of July, 2014 our mission on this day was to go and recapture Damboa from the terrorists. On our way to the point, along the road the terrorists had laid ambush unknown to us. At that point, we lost nine men and twenty-three (soldiers) were seriously injured.
“To further commence the journey, we requested sufficient weapons from our commander so as to be able to fight more sufficiently with the terrorists but our request was refused by the commander.
“On the 4th of August 2014, we were asked to return to Damboa. At this point again we were ambushed, yet again we requested weapons from our commander and he still refused.
“All of a sudden on the same day, the GOC of 7 division in Maiduguri, Borno State, Major General M.Y Ibrahim ordered that we should be brought to him for an address.
“His plan then was to hand us over to the military police guardroom. Two weeks later we were moved to the airport, flown to Abuja, and driven to Abacha barracks in Abuja.
“At the barracks, we were divided into different groups and taken to different guardrooms at different barracks, some Mambila barracks, Lungi barracks, Mogadishu barracks, and Keffi barracks, Nasarawa State.
“We were in the guardroom for four months after which we were sent to the general court-martial.
“The court-martial process started on the 2nd of October 2014. A case was established against us in the court and adjourned several times before we were finally sentenced.
“But one of us did not face the trials for health reasons, five were discharged and acquitted while 54 of us were sentenced to death by firing squad on the following charges: mutiny and criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny against 7 division Maiduguri.
“The presiding chief justice who sentenced us is Brigadier General M.S. Yusuf, while the advocate judge was Lieutenant Col Ukpe Ukpe, the prosecutor Captain J. A. Nwosu, our defence counsel was led by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Major Femi Oyebanji (Rtd), Barr. Samuel, Barr. Eze, and Barr. Olakitan.
“After the sentence was announced on the 17th December 2014, we were taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and flown to Lagos on 21st December 2014 with handcuffs and leg chains.
“On arrival in Lagos, we were shared into different guardrooms e.g. CIC intelligence underground guardroom and SIB military detention, all these with handcuffs and leg chains for a whole month all together in detention we spent 1 year, 2 days, 7 hours and 40 minutes and 29 seconds in Lagos State.
“Thereafter, on the 18th of December 2015, our sentence was reverted to 10 years imprisonment and after some days we were moved to the maximum security prisons, Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos State.”
Bukola also revealed that the incident affected his marriage, saying his wife abandoned him after he was sentenced to death.
Bukola said: “This life is full of ups and downs. I never imagined that my wife, mother of my only child (Adam) would abandon me just after I was sentenced to death by firing squad to marry another man. Anyway, life continues. It sounded incredulous when our death sentence was reverted to 10 years.
“So many things happened when I was in prison, my elder brother a constable in the Nigeria Police Force attached to Kwara State Police command misfired on January 20, 2016, and was sentenced to death.
“The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment last year. My aged parents –Mrs. Rainot Amoo, 65 and Pa Abdul Salam Amoo, 70 –are in the village Gorioluode in the Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State.
“Now that we have been released, we beg President Mohammadu Buhari, Vice President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo, the Chief of Army Staff to reinstate us in the army so that we can fight the terrorists.”