A non-governmental organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), on Tuesday, launched an online campaign seeking presidential pardon for the 66 soldiers who bagged ten years’ jail each after their death sentences were commuted.
This was contained in a press statement signed by the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The online petition, which was launched at ipetition, with the title “Pardon the 66 Soldiers”, reads, “William Shakespeare was right when he said, ‘Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall. Some run from brakes of vice and answer none, while some are convicted for a fault alone.’
“66 Nigerian soldiers who had earlier been sentenced to death in December 2014 had their sentences commuted to ten years imprisonment each in December 2015 by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. We thank the COAS for showing mercy on them.
“12 among the 66 soldiers committed a separate offence. They were accused of making an attempt on the life of their commander. The remaining 54 were those who asked to be properly armed before advancing on the enemy.
“Nigerians will recall that Nigerian soldiers were fleeing from Boko Haram insurgents due to lack of adequate weaponry. It was after President Muhammadu Buhari became president that he took steps to provide the necessary equipment for the soldiers.
“The pendulum has since swung as Nigeria’s gallant soldiers have liberated territories hitherto occupied by the terrorists.
“The on-going probe into allegations of diversion of huge funds meant for the purchase of arms for the Nigerian military has opened the eyes of Nigerians.
“They have seen how many corrupt politicians pocketed the funds thereby causing the death of thousands of civilians and soldiers, the abduction of over 200 Chibok girls and the destruction of the homes and properties of thousands who have now been turned into internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own country.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), now convinced that there was actually an acute shortage of weaponry for the soldiers fighting the insurgents and that some callous and greedy politicians were responsible for the shortage, concluded that meting out any punishment to the convicted soldiers would be a miscarriage of justice.
“Based on this conclusion, MURIC hereby appeals to the good people of Nigeria to sign a petition requesting President Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to compassionately exercise the prerogative of mercy by granting presidential pardon to the afore-mentioned soldiers.
“We appeal to all men of conscience to raise their voices in support of these young and gallant soldiers who are being punished for exposing corruption and for being whistleblowers against those who pocket blood money.
“If we cannot stem the tears of the unlucky mothers of the Chibok girls which are still flowing freely, we have a chance to stop the tears of the mothers of the 66 soldiers from turning to blood”, MURIC said.
It, therefore, called on Nigerians to stand up to be counted on the side of justice.