The director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola, has called on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy to release the 54 soldiers who are currently serving a ten year jail term for alleged mutiny.
It will be recalled that The Federal Government (FG), had on Tuesday inaugurated the committee which is to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in the discharge of his constitutional responsibility of granting state pardon to deserving prisoners and ex-convicts.
The director of the organization who signed the statement, contended that the 54 soldiers should be seen as heroes, patriots and whistle-blowers instead of criminals and mutineers.
“These 54 soldiers merely refused to confront Boko Haram with poor weapons. They did not actually refuse to fight.
“They asked for better weapons. Their insistence drew attention to the massive corruption at the battle front in the days of ex-President Jonathan. It enabled the current administration to uncover the $2.1 billion arms fraud.
“But today these brave patriots are languishing in jail. They were first sentenced to death by a military court martial.
“The death sentence was later commuted to ten years in jail by the Chief of Army Staff. We believe that this is one miscarriage of justice too many.
“Why should those defending our dear country against insurgents suffer such ignominy? Why should our whistle-blowers end up in jail? The 54 soldiers made no attempt at shooting their superior officers. They only demanded better weapons.
“We believe that setting them free will reinforce the patriotic zeal in hundreds of soldiers who are currently fighting insurgents in the North Eastern part of the country.
“These 54 soldiers are from different religious and ethnic backgrounds brought together by fate and a burning passion to free their country from the claws of Boko Haram.
“We have never met or seen them physically in real life except on television and on the pages of newspapers. On our part, we are simply moved by the desire to support the war against corruption and to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice.
“We have issued many statements in our call for pardon for the 54 soldiers even before the setting up of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.”Akintola said,
He explained that the organisation had on the different platforms and programs remembered the bounded soldier in their state.
“We mentioned their case in our Maolud message of 12th December, 2016 entitled ‘Set Innocent Captives Free’; our press statement of 9th March, 2017 entitled ‘MURIC Calls For Special Pardon For the 54 Soldiers’; another statement dated 30th June, 2017 under the caption ‘Set the 54 Soldiers Free’; our Maolud message of 30th November 2017 entitled ‘Buhari Should Pardon the 54 Soldiers’; our press release of 18th May, 2017 , our Id al-Fitr message of 14th June, 2018 and our most recent Salah message issued last week on 22nd August, 2018.” He added.