Muslim group in Nigeria seeks Ramadan pardon for soldiers
Scores of Nigerian soldiers jailed for refusing to fight without adequate weaponry ought to be treated as patriotic whistle-blowers and freed, a prominent Muslim rights group said in an appeal issued Thursday, the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The 66 soldiers were court-martialed in late 2014 and initially sentenced to life in jail or death for mutiny, refusal to fight Boko Haram insurgents, and disobedience to lawful military order during the administration of then-President Goodluck Jonathan. But they later had their sentence commuted to 10 years in jail by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Muslims Rights Concern (MURIC) group said leaving the soldiers in prison was wrong because they helped expose the diversion of at least $2.1 billion in funds meant to buy arms to fight the militants.
Several army officials and politicians are now standing trial after being indicted in the scandal.
"MURIC reminds President Buhari of the plight of the soldiers who were imprisoned for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents with poor weapons," MURIC chief Ishaq Akintola said in the message.
"In the spirit of the forgiveness and freedom which the middle and end of Ramadan stand for, we appeal to Mr. President to, in exercise of the prerogative of mercy, grant presidential pardon to the soldiers."