Thursday, March 9, 2017


9th March, 2017

As five hundred dismissed soldiers plead with the Nigerian Army to “tamper justice with mercy”, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is reiterating its appeal for presidential pardon for the 54 soldiers who are currently serving a ten-year jail sentence for requesting for proper armament before advancing on Boko Haram insurgents.       

They had earlier advanced with their battalion on 9th July, 2014 under Lt. Col K. C. Uwa to recapture Damboa but they were ambushed and they lost 23 men and four officers due to inadequate equipment. Without fresh arms and without a single armoured tank, they were again asked to advance on Damboa,Deluwa and Bullabilin.

This made them request for more equipments from their commander, Lt. Col. Oporum. For daring to demand arms before engaging a better equipped enemy, they were rounded up. Their death sentence which was pronounced on 17th December, 2014 was commuted to ten years imprisonment each by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai in December 2015.

MURIC has since been pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari to grant presidential pardon to the 54 soldiers. We have issued six different press statements since their predicament began (7th December, 2015, 21st December 2015, 5th January, 2016, 5th June 2016 , 21st October, 2016 and 11th December 2016). This statement is the seventh.

The COAS has played his own part by commuting their death sentence to imprisonment and we believe that it is now the turn of President Buhari as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to exercise the prerogative of mercy by granting the 54 soldiers presidential pardon.

It hurts severely to be made to suffer for so long for exposing large scale corruption in the army. We remind Mr. President that it was this case which actually revealed the massive graft involving arms fund meant for soldiers fighting Boko Haram. It is therefore paradoxical that the 54 soldiers are undergoing punishment for exposing corruption in the army.

Equally ironical is the fact that the 54 soldiers who acted as whistle-blowers in the arms fund case are rotting in jail at a time the Federal Government promised reward for whistle-blowers in corruption cases. It is a sad twist of fate and it may serve as a source of deterrent for prospective whistle-blowers if their case is not urgently revisited.

Mr. President sir, remember that Allah will ask you how you conduct the affairs of citizens under your care. He (Allah) said in the Glorious Qur’an, “We shall ask those to whom our messages were delivered and We shall also ask those who were sent to deliver them” (Qur’an 7:6).

Finally, MURIC appeals to all ex-heads of state, serving governors, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Chief Commissioner of the Public Complaints Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbole and civil society groups to show interest in the plight of the 54 soldiers.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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