The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to grant pardon to 70 soldiers convicted for mutiny during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
In a letter dated August 25, 2021, and addressed to the President, Falana said the soldiers deserved to be pardoned just like the Boko Haram insurgents.
He recalled that the Federal Government deployed thousands of ill-equipped and ill-motivated soldiers to the North-East to tackle the Boko Haram insurgents from 2013 to 2014.
The letter read: “Instead of attending to such legitimate demand, the military authorities accused scores of the soldiers of sabotaging the counter-insurgency operations of the Federal Government and proceeded to set up courts-martial to try them for mutiny.
“We defended 58 soldiers while the remaining 12 were defended by other colleagues before the Courts-Martial which sat in Abuja. At the end of the trials in August and December 2014, the Courts-Martial jailed some of the soldiers and sentenced 70 others to death for mutiny.
“The courts martial failed to appreciate that the demand for weapons by the soldiers was justified under section 179 of the Armed Forces Act, (Cap A20) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“Notwithstanding the pendency of the appeal at the apex court we urge Your Excellency to exercise your prerogative of mercy in favour of the entire 70 convicted soldiers.
“It is public knowledge that the Federal Government and some state governments have recently granted pardon and rehabilitated hundreds of terrorists who had waged war against Nigeria and subjected unarmed citizens to egregious human rights abuse.
“The soldiers who were convicted of mutiny for demanding for weapons to fight such terrorists deserve to be granted pardon and rehabilitated by the Federal Government.”