A military court in Nigeria has sentenced six soldiers to life in prison for selling thousands of guns to suspected Niger Delta oil militants. A judge said the soldiers, led by Maj Suleiman Akubo, had sold some 7,000 weapons including machine guns, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Officials have linked the case to Henry Okah, the suspected leader of the most prominent militant group. The militants have caused major disruption to Nigerian oil production.

Mr Okah, who was arrested last year, is thought to lead the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend). The convicted soldiers were accused of stealing the weapons over a number of years and selling them to militants including Mr Okah’s brother, the judge said.

The court also convicted and demoted a colonel and two corporals for gun running.

Mend claims to be fighting for greater control over oil wealth in Nigeria’s impoverished Delta region. But observers say many militants profit from criminal rackets and trade in stolen oil.


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