A Nigerian military court sentenced 54 soldiers to death Wednesday, after they were convicted of mutiny. The soldiers' convictions stem from allegations that they refused to help recapture three towns taken over by Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has been fighting an insurgency in the country's north since 2009.
A lawyer representing the soldiers said that the 54 were now expected to face execution by firing squad, while five were acquitted by the court, according to the BBC.
Nigerian troops on the front lines of the battle against Boko Haram have complained that they lack the weapons and supplies necessary to tackle the group, which possesses tanks, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other heavy weaponry, according to an AFP report.
Nigerian defense officials had denied claims that the country's army was ill-equipped for the challenge of taking on the group but, in a move seen by some as a tacit admission of the national army's inadequacies, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan earlier this year sought permission for a $1 billion loan from foreign institutions to “upgrade the equipment, training and logistics of the armed forces,” according to Forbes.
Those charged, including the soldiers who were acquitted, are attached to the 7 Division, Nigerian Army and include two corporals, nine lance corporals and 49 Private soldiers, according to Nigerian news site Premium Times.
The court's ruling comes after 12 Nigerian soldiers from the same division were sentenced to death in September, following charges that they mutinied and attempted to murder their commanding officer. The alleged mutiny was also conducted by soldiers who were tasked with fighting Boko Haram.
Earlier this year, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan announced that the government had struck a ceasefire deal with Boko Haram, whose name translates as "Western education is forbidden," to secure the release of 219 schoolgirls, whose kidnapping by the group had in April had prompted global outrage, and gave birth to the Twitter hashtag #bringbackourgirls.
In a video released Nov. 1 however, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, said that the kidnapped girls had been “married off” to fighters, and denied that any ceasefire had been agreed.