PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to grant presidential pardon to soldiers imprisoned for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) made the call in a statement by its director Ishaq Akintola, on Friday.
HEADLINE recalls that soldiers numbering about 54 were accused of refusing to deploy and recapture three towns seized by the indigenous terrorists in 2014.
They all were accused of “conspiring to commit mutiny against the authorities of 7 Division,” which is on the front line of the counter-insurgency. They were later sentenced to death for mutiny, assault, cowardice and refusing to fight th Islamic extremists.
Calling for their freedom MURIC said the soldiers should be pardoned because they are the whistleblowers who brought attention to the alleged $2.1bn arms fraud in the Nigerian army.
The group said it is a sad paradox that while the federal government was rewarding whistleblowers, the soldiers are on death row.
“In the spirit of forgiveness and freedom which the middle and end of Ramadan stand for, we appeal to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to, in exercise of the prerogative of mercy, grant presidential pardon to the 54 soldiers,” it said.
“We call on the civil societies, particularly, the anti-corruption crusaders to speak out for the 54 soldiers.
“They were sentenced to life imprisonment ab initio before the sentence was commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment.
“MURIC sees the 54 soldiers as whistle-blowers, not criminals because they actually exposed the $2.1 billion arms fraud.
“It is a sad paradox that while other whistle-blowers are being rewarded, the 54 soldiers are languishing in jail. This is frustrating.
“We also remind state governors and state chief judges to use the occasion to visit prisons in their states with a view to setting free a large number of inmates particularly those awaiting trial.”