The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) today, Tuesday 5th January, 2016 launched an online campaign seeking presidential pardon for the 66 soldiers who bagged ten years jail each after their death sentences had been commuted. The online petition which was launched at ipetition reads:
PARDON THE 66 SOLDIERS
“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 ongoing 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 among 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 is 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 aforementioned soldiers.
“Greatest Nigerian People! 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. Please send this appeal to all your contacts. It is a humanitarian service. Only noble minds fight for the innocent. Remember the words of Uthman Dan Fodio, “Conscience is a wound, only the truth can heal it.”
The petition whose target is 5,000 signatures garnered 42 signatures and 31 comments within three hours of its emergence. We appeal to civil society, social media activists and all men of conscience to go online and sign this petition in order to give these young soldiers a new lease of life.
We must stop the age-old Nigerian practice of sacrificing excellence on the altar of mediocrity. It is even worse this time as Nigeria is about to sacrifice heroes on the altar of rogues. 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. We call on Nigerians to stand up to be counted on the side of justice.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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