Chris Steven, Abuja
Luck has finally smiled on the 66 soldiers sentenced to death by firing squad in January and March 2015 by separate General Court Martials as the death penalty has been commuted to 10 years imprisonment each.
It will be recalled that 71 soldiers were arraigned on several charges in joint trials.
The soldiers were arraigned on several count charges that include Criminal Conspiracy, Conspiracy to commit mutiny, Mutiny, Attempt to Commit an Offence (Murder), Disobedience to Particular Orders, Insubordinate Behaviour and False Accusation, amongst others.
They were tried, discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges which included mutiny.
Out of the number, 66 were found guilty on some of the count charges and sentenced to death, while five were discharged and acquitted and one was given 28 days Imprisonment with Hard Labour (IHL).
However, following series of petitions, the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, ordered a legal review of the cases.
The directive was carried out to examine the merit of each case.
It was on the basis of the review and recommendations that the Chief of Army Staff commuted the death sentences of the 66 soldiers to 10 years jail term.
The sentences are to run concurrently.
The cases of other soldiers are being reviewed and will be made public once the appropriate reviews are completed.