The incarcerated 27 soldiers are languishing in detention for the past one year, the federal government has all along pretended as if nothing is amiss. Having made enormous sacrifices including taking high risk in a peacekeeping mission for 6 months in Liberia, the soldiers were supposed to earn $1,228 monthly, but were instead given $3000 by the army high command, thereby short-changing them to the tune of $4368 each. The soldiers protested this crime. Rather than bring those who committed the crime to book, it was the soldiers that were handed down life imprisonment.
Let’s take a keen look at the circumstances in relation to the amnesty deal offered the militants. Had it been the protesting soldiers forcefully broke into the arsenals, took weapons, went straight to where oil installations are in Ondo, or even Delta and Rivers state, and carry-out sabotage upon demands that their money be paid, you could be sure that the government and the army authorities would have acceded to their demands. The $7368 would have been paid; they will be beneficiaries of the N60, 000 monthly salary and allowances for militants; Amnesty or State Pardon would have been offered to them. All these packages will be organized by the federal government just to allow the free flow of crude oil production. It has shown quite clearly that the President Yar’ Adua’s rule of law and due process is nothing but the rule of the ‘mighty’ meant to guarantee the influx of petro dollars into the pockets of the cabals.
The soldiers took to peaceful means of addressing their problems, which is legitimate and guaranteed in section 39 and 40 of the 1999 constitution (freedom of expression and assembly), and they are paying dearly for it on account of inhuman action of corrupt Military High Command and the federal government. At the moment, they are denied access to their lawyers; the military authorities have refused to confirm or reject the ruling of Brigadier General Ishaya Bauka-led Court Martial judgment. From all indications this is a deliberate and underhand action to prevent the lawyers to the soldiers to file necessary papers to appeal that reprehensible ruling of the Court Martial and thereby perpetually keep the soldiers in dungeon.
Since July 5, 2008 the soldiers have been incarcerated in one terrible, sub-human place or the other. For example, the current detention camp which is at Ojoo Military Barracks in Ibadan is never ideal even for the worst of criminals. 5 soldiers each are kept in a dingy, tiny room that doesn’t allow for any convenience. Basic facilities like health care, feeding etc. are completely missing except for the family members who support them, and these gestures are still at the mercy of the barracks commandant.
Education Rights Campaign (ERC) calls on the Military High Command and the federal government to immediately and unconditionally release all 27 soldiers without loss of pay. We feel that the injustice meted out to the soldiers is worse than a war crime- war against humanity! President Yar’Adua and the Military High Command should also apologize to the families of the soldiers and to the entire nation for the undue treatment and embarrassment meted out to the soldiers.
Education Rights Campaign (ERC)