Rights group: UN should try to stop Nigeria executing soldiers who refused to fight extremists

A leading Nigerian human rights group is asking U.N. rapporteurs to act urgently to try to stop the mass executions of soldiers sentenced to death for refusing to fight Islamic militants.

Fifty-four soldiers received death sentences last week, another 12 were condemned in September and 45 more soldiers, including a few officers, await their fate in an ongoing court-martial.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said Wednesday the courts-martial held in secret were "a mockery of justice" and ignored issues raised by the condemned men that "suggest lack of transparency, accountability and general deficiencies" in the handling of the security budget and arms purchases.

Project director Adetokunbo Mumuni said they have asked the U.N. rapporteurs dealing with cruel punishment, justice and human rights to intervene with Nigeria's government.