The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to use his powers of prerogative order of mercy to pardon and reinstate the soldiers convicted over the fight againstBoko Haram insurgents in the North East zone of the country.
The Nigerian Army had on Saturday commuted the death sentences passed on 66 soldiers by separate court martial to 10 years imprisonment.
A statement by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, a colonel, said 71 soldiers were arraigned on several charges in joint trials in January and March.
The soldiers were arraigned on several count charges that include Criminal Conspiracy, Conspiracy to commit mutiny, Mutiny, Attempt to Commit an Offence (Murder), Disobedience to Particular Orders, Insubordinate Behaviour and False Accusation, amongst others.
While thanking the army authorities for squashing the death sentences, the CNPP, in a statement by its spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, said soldiers convicted over the fight against insurgents had been vindicated by the revelation from ongoing trial of the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and others and should be reinstated.
“In addition to the review of some of the sentences by the Chief of Army Staff, we still appeal to Mr President and Commander-in-Chief to as a matter of urgent national importance to pardon and reinstate the mutinied soldiers,” it said.
“Our appeal is anchored on the premise that they were starved of equipment as evidenced by their pleadings in the court martial that they were ill-equipped. Indeed the only allegation charge proved against them at the trial was that they had the temerity to ask for equipment to combat the insurgency.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, the reasons for the sordid scenario of dearth of equipment which led to the mutiny are clearly gazetted by the unpatriotic, callous, unconscionable and utter greed of Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), erstwhile National Security Adviser and his clan.
The group said the Federal Government should urgently commence the trial of Mr. Dasuki and others for criminal conspiracy, murder and subversion of the Nigeria State, for allegedly “engaging in crass primitive accumulation and unpatriotic diversion of arms fund to private pockets”.
It argued that their trial should not only be done on the basis of alleged money laundering and other quasi charges, but also treason.
It said, “They declared state of emergency serially yet paid deaf ears to the wanton killing of soldiers and the Maiduguri Barack protest march of the wives of soldiers.
“A protest some pundits posit could have been a wakeup call to the kleptomaniacs. The soldiers’ wives protest is rated to be the first and only one in the history of the Nigeria Army.”
The CNPP said it recalled that after a meeting with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa sometime ago, Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State shouted at the top of his voice that Boko Haram was better equipped and better motivated more than the Nigeria Army, but that the governor “was called all sorts of unprintable names by the cash and carry clique”.
It added, “Similarly, the then Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Barde (rtd), also testified like Pontus Pilate to the truism that the soldiers were ill-equipped and ill-motivated. Though medicine after death from a Defence Overall Boss who looked the other way, while the Bazaar was going on.
“In spite of our collective amnesia, we cannot forget easily how the erstwhile Jonathan’s regime botched the covert negotiations of Dr Steve Davies with Boko Haram, and chased him away. He was an innocent Australian clergy who took the risk and volunteered to negotiate with Boko Haram.
“Your Excellency, for God’s sake, how else or better evidence can we assemble to convince that the military mutineers were vindicated given the avalanche of evidence on the ground?”