Falana in an open letter to Buhari, said the appeal for the pardon of the soldiers became necessary since it has been established that the fund meant for the purchase of arms for members of the Armed Forces fighting insurgency were diverted. He said such was the reason for the protest by the convicted soldiers.
According to Falana, “Since the demand of the convicted 70 soldiers and others found justification in the criminal diversion of the huge fund provided for the purchase of arms and armament to fight the terrorists, there was no legal and moral justification for the conviction and sentences imposed on them by the courts-martial.
“No doubt, General Buratai identified the gross injustice meted out to the soldiers. But instead of quashing the unjust findings of the courts-martial he merely reduced the death sentences passed on 66 out of 70 condemned soldiers to 10 years imprisonment.”
Falana, who is the counsel to the convicted soldiers, noted that it was on record that insurgents had killed over 25,000 soldiers and civilians, including children, due to inadequate weapons to counter the terrorists.
“However, for merely demanding for arms and armament from the military authorities for the continuation of the fight against the insurgents, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Kenneth Minima (rtd) accused a number of soldiers of sabotaging the counter insurgency operations of the federal government and proceeded to set up courts-martial to try them for mutiny.
“In view of the grave injustice which had characterized the trial of the convicted soldiers we made a passionate appeal to the current Chief of Army Staff, General Yussuf Butarai not to confirm the iniquitous findings of the courts-martial.
“Your Excellency will therefore agree with us that since the armed forces were not equipped to defend the territorial integrity of the nation the convicts did not commit mutiny or any other offence whatsoever in demanding for adequate weapons to fight the well armed insurgents.
“We are therefore compelled to urge Your Excellency to exercise your prerogative of mercy in favour of the all convicted members of the armed forces pursuant to section 175 of the Constitution,” Falana said.