A Nigerian soldier has been jailed for seven years for killing a man at a market in the country’s northeast, the army announced, in a rare sanction of military excesses against civilians.

The soldier, whose name was not disclosed, was found guilty of manslaughter for shooting dead Umar Alkali at the Monday Market in the key city of Maiduguri on December 23, 2015.

A court martial rejected the soldier’s not guilty plea and claim that he shot Alkali in self-defence and to protect his colleagues because he had tried to seize his rifle.

The panel ruled he had used “disproportionate force”, Nigerian Army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused Nigeria’s military of abuses against civilians during the Boko Haram conflict, including arbitrary arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing.

Thousands of people have been rounded up and held for long periods without charge on suspicion of links to the radical Islamist group, which has killed at least 20,000 since 2009.

The crowded Monday Market in central Maiduguri has been repeatedly targeted during the conflict, particularly by suicide bombers.

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