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Boko Haram: 54 convicted soldiers seek presidential pardon

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The 54 Nigerian soldiers sentenced to death by the Military Court Martial over alleged mutiny and refusal to fight the Islamist group, Boko Haram, in the North East have approached the presidential probe panel into human rights violation by the Armed Forces for pardon.

The General Court Martial, which sat at the Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja, had passed the sentence on the 54 soldiers to death after they were found guilty of mutiny.

But, in a memorandum to the panel, the convicted soldiers, through their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said notwithstanding their appeal pending before the Court of Appeal, the panel has jurisdiction to hear their case.

Falana drew the attention of the panel to section 198 of the Armed Forces Act as well as section 175 of the 1999 Constitution which, he submitted, empowers the president to grant pardon to any convicted person in Nigeria.

Falana submitted that nowhere in the terms of reference of the panel is it stated that his clients cannot be accommodated by the panel.

The sections, according to him, did not say pending matters in the court should not be entertained by the panel.

He told the panel that the president had set up a panel to investigate the procurement of arms and ammunition where it was discovered that funds meant for arms and ammunition were criminally diverted.

The Nigerian Army has, however, pleaded for more time to respond to the petition.

Meanwhile, the panel also resumed hearing in the petition by the Moon Valley communities in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State, who narrated how they were sacked by the Nigerian Army.

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