Muslim group, MURIC, seeks release of 54 soldiers jailed for refusing to fight Boko Haram | Ripples Nigeria
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Muslim group, MURIC, seeks release of 54 soldiers jailed for refusing to fight Boko Haram

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OIC: CAN, Ohaneze, Afenifere, all Muslim haters, MURIC says

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is pushing for the release of 54 soldiers arrested in 2014 for daring to complain to their commander that their weapons were too poor to confront better equipped Boko Haram fighters.

MURIC in a statement issued on Sunday appealed to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Rauf Aregbesola to ensure the release of the soldiers who were sentenced to death in December 2014 but later commuted to ten years imprisonment.

In the statement signed and issued by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC also agreed with the minister that Nigeria’s correctional centres were long overdue for decongestion.

The statement added, “The honourable minister has good intentions and the idea is quite laudable, visionary and humane. Available data indicates that more than 70% of inmates of correctional centres are awaiting trials.

“This has caused severe congestion forcing inmates to sleep in turn. They queue for hours in front of toilets. This is dehumanising, degrading and inconsiderate.

“Exempli gratia, 1,574 out of 1,761 inmates in Anambra are awaiting trial. Out of the 600 inmates in Aba, only 113 of them are serving full sentences. The rest are awaiting trial and expectedly, 80 of them have gone mad. It is so pathetic, so alarming.

“Then comes the question of space. Our correctional centres are not large enough, neither do they have necessary facilities to retain a human face. 585 inmates jostle for 400 spaces in Ekiti.

“The space designed for 1,354 inmates in Rivers is being used by 4,424 inmates. Owerri Correctional Centre contains 2,500 instead of 550. This is why Aregbesola’s move to decongest the prisons could not have come at a better time.”

“With the total number of prisoners in Nigeria standing at 73, 631 as at 18th July, 2018 in a population of roughly 199 million one wonders why Nigeria cannot provide enough facilities in its correctional centres when its prison population rate is just 37 per 100,000.

“It is noteworthy that the world prison population rate, based on United Nations estimates of national population levels, is 145 per 100,000. The rate for Western African countries is 53 whereas for southern African countries it is 244 per 100,000

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“But we are asking the minister to extend the kind gesture to other prisoners based on merit. Our main interest lies in the 54 soldiers. These were soldiers arrested in 2014 for daring to complain to their commander that their weapons were too poor to confront better equipped Boko Haram fighters.

“They had earlier lost 23 men and four officers due to poor equipment when they advanced on Damboa on 9thJuly, 2014. This made them to demand better supplies when they were ordered to return to the battle front again without improved weaponry. They were sentenced to death in December 2014 but this was later commuted to ten years imprisonment.

“But Nigerians have since learnt that it was the 54 soldiers affair which exposed the massive corruption in the army with particular reference to armsgate. We therefore contend that the 54 soldiers should be seen as heroes and patriots instead of being treated as criminals who merely deserve to rot in jail.

“It is on these humane and compassionate grounds that we are pleading with the honourable Minister of Internal Affairs to kindly extend the decongestion exercise to the 54 soldiers. It is about our norms and values. Those who have toiled for our country should not be made to regret their sacrifices. It is demoralising.

“Apart from seeking greener pastures, our lopsided sense of justice is another raison d’etre for the migration of Nigerian youth to foreign lands. We castigate excellence and reward mediocrity. We worship indolence and demonise industry,” the statement by MURIC read in part.

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