Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to grant Presidential pardon to the sixty-six soldiers whose death sentences were recently commuted to 10 years imprisonment by the Army Authorities for offences ranging from insubordination to mutiny, among others.
Governor Oshiomhole said based on the strength of the recent revelations on the $2.1 billion funds for arms purchase which was mismanaged by the last administration, the President should, in the spirit of the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day, spare them the jail term but could dismiss them from the Army for their acts of indiscipline.
The Governor made this appeal while delivering his speech at the grand finale of the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day on in Benin City on Friday.
The Governor while acknowledging the noble role of the Armed Forces in ensuring peace and the unity of the nation even at the cost of paying the supreme sacrifice said it would amount to injustice if the Military Personnel who were sent to the war front without arms were made to wallow in prison while those who diverted the funds meant for Arms purchases are being granted bail by the law courts.
The Governor said: “I ask Edo people to stand by our Armed Forces, to support the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the Armed Forces, to re-kit them but also to revive our economy. The revelation about diversion of funds meant to equip the Armed Forces is not funny and therefore we must all give the President the support he needs to bring to justice those who diverted money meant to secure all of us and convert them to political funds.
“These same people sat in the comfort of their office, looking at their loot and they had the guts to put on trial soldiers who were ill-equipped and were asked to go and commit suicide in the face of Boko Haram. I am happy that the Military have in their wisdom through their own judicial process committed those death sentences to various terms of imprisonment for those soldiers who were involved.
“I am not an apostle or a supporter of indiscipline but I believe it is also a matter of hypocrisy to tie the legs of a young man or a woman and ask him to go and get involved in an Olympic race. If you chain him, how can he run?”
“So, I appeal to President Buhari to use his powers to grant them pardon even if they will not be allowed to retain their uniforms. We all have learnt to be vigilant and to support our Armed Forces.”
While emphasizing the importance and sanctity of our unity, Oshiomhole called on the political class to be mindful of their utterances in the overall interest of the country saying, “I want to use this occasion to appeal to our political class not to allow their personal and selfish interest to override national interest and consideration and make inflammatory statements that questions the unity of our great country. I hold the view that the unity of a nation state cannot be treated the way the unity of voluntary association is done.”
Governor Oshiomhole pledged the government’s continued support for the Armed Forces and the wards of soldiers who paid the supreme price in ensuring the unity of the nation.
He promised to support the legion with the sum of N10m.
Governor Oshiomhole along with other dignitaries later performed the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph of the unknown soldier at the Museum ground, Benin city.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole explained to APC faithful how former President Goodluck Jonathan threatened to cage him after May 29 for throwing his weight behind the candidature of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last general elections.
Speaking at a meeting with APC leaders across the three Senatorial Districts of Edo State on Thursday, a highly elated Oshiomhole said “around this time last year, the tension in Nigeria was such that Prophets of doom around the world were almost unanimous that Nigeria would not survive 2015 but as you can see, man proposes, God disposes.
“The former President, Goodluck Jonathan told our National Chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun to inform me that after the election, he will put me, Adams, the son of Oshiomhole in a hole and I told Chief Oyegun to inform him to dig that hole very deep because although I am short, in the course of pushing me into the hole, nobody knows who will get there first.
“Since he is taller than me, he needs to dig the hole deep enough so that either of us can get in. In the end, he is inside the hole and I am busy putting dust into that hole”, he said.