The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use the Eid-il-Fitr celebration to forgive the 54 soldiers imprisoned for refusing to fight Boko Haram insurgents with poor weapons.

The Muslim group described the soldiers as the whistleblowers who brought attention to the alleged $2.1bn arms fraud in the Nigerian army.

Ishaq Akintola, MURIC director, said it is a “sad paradox” that while the federal government was rewarding whistleblowers, the soldiers are on death row.

In a statement on Friday, MURIC said: “In the spirit of forgiveness and freedom which the middle and end of Ramadan stand for, we appeal to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces to, in exercise of the prerogative of mercy, grant presidential pardon to the 54 soldiers.

“We call on the civil societies, particularly, the anti-corruption crusaders to speak out for the 54 soldiers.

“They were sentenced to life imprisonment ab initio before the sentence was commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment.

“MURIC sees the 54 soldiers as whistle-blowers, not criminals because they actually exposed the $2.1 billion arms fraud.

“It is a sad paradox that while other whistle-blowers are being rewarded, the 54 soldiers are languishing in jail. This is frustrating.

“We also remind state governors and state chief judges to use the occasion to visit prisons in their states with a view to setting free a large number of inmates particularly those awaiting trial.”

Akintola also urged Nigerian Muslims to use the occasion of the eid-il-Fitr to pray fervently for President Buhari and the country.

“Our prayer points should include divine protection for PMB, triumph over all forces lined up against him and another four-year tenure of peace, prosperity and progress,” he said.

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