Nigeria Boko Haram
Nigerian army soldiers stand guard as they cordon off a road leading to the scene of a blast at a business district in Abuja. Reuters

Twelve Nigerian soldiers have been handed the death sentence for the charges of mutiny and attempted murder after they opened fire at their commanding officer in northern Nigeria earlier this year.

The incident took place in the northeastern city of Maiduguri in Borno state after a convoy was ambushed by Boko Haram militants on a road commonly targeted by the terror group.

The soldiers were angry about the attack and, when the commander of the army's Seventh Division arrived at their camp, they threw stones and fired shots both into the air and towards him.

General Amadu Mohammed was unharmed in the incident but bullet-holes were left in his armour-plated vehicle from the attack.

At the court martial in Abuja, five soldiers were acquitted while one was convicted on another charge. All twelve of those who received the death sentence denied the charges of mutiny and attempted murder.

Court President Chukwuemeka Okonkwo confirmed that the sentences had to be approved by Nigeria's military authorities but said that the military panel considered the "likely effect on counter-insurgency operations" of the incident and its "implications on national security".

Troops sent into combat with 60 bullets

In a new report, experts from the Nigeria Security Network have called on the Nigerian government to urgently reinforce Maiduguri to prevent it falling into enemy hands and regain control over Borno's network of roads to stem the insurgency's advance.

They warn low morale and inadequate equipment in the army - with reports that troops are being sent into combat with only 60 rounds of ammunition to face Boko Haram's heavy weaponry and tanks - is causing soldiers to refuse to counter-attack and flee from battle.

"Despite the bravery of individual soldiers on the ground and the best efforts of the Nigerian government and military to support them, the response to Boko Haram in recent days and weeks has been insufficient to halt the group's dramatic advances," the report said.

In April, the terror group – which wishes to expand its 'Caliphate' in north-eastern Nigeria –kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok, bringing global attention to the west African nation's fight against terrorism.

Three states – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa – have been under a state of emergency since May last year.

According to Human Rights Watch, the militants have killed at least 2,053 people since the beginning of 2014.