This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Falana Seeks Re-Instatement of 27 Dismissed Soldiers

Following the pardon granted the 27 soldiers in Akure who were sentenced to life imprisonment for staging a protest over the non payment of their arrears while on foreign mission and subsequent commital to dismissal from service, their counsel, Femi Falana has appealed to the Army council for their re-instatement.

In a request letter addressed to the Minister of Defence and Chairman of Army Council Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), Falana said "we have confirmed that our petition dated October 7, 2010 for the review of the confirmation of the conviction of our clients has been considered by the Army Council.

"According to the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade the Army Council has granted pardon to the aforementioned solders, commuted their prison terms to discharge from military service and directed that they be paid all their due entitlements.

"While thanking your good self and other members of the Army Council for reviewing the unfortunate case of our clients we are compelled to demand for their re-instatement on the ground that their rights and privileges have been restored as a result of the pardon extended to them.

"This request is anchored on the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Oluyemisi Falae v Olusegun Obasanjo (1999) 4NWLR 476 495 where Musdapher JCA (as he then was) stated that "A pardon is an act of grace by the appropriate authority which mitigates or obliterates the punishment the law demands for the offence and restores the rights and the privileges forfeited on account of the offence. See Verneco Inc. v. Fidelity & Cas C. New York 253 LA 721, 219 SO 2D 508, 511. The effect of a pardon is to make the offender, a new man (novus homo), to acquit him of all of corporal penalties and forfeitures annexed to the offence pardoned".

He averred that the request was also predicated on the case of Corporal Segun Oladele & 22 Ors. v. Nigerian Army (2003) 36 WRN 68 wherein the Appellants who were flown to Egypt for medical treatment demonstrated at the Cairo Airport to protest the diversion of their allowance and lack of adequate medical treatment after serving Africa in the ECOMOG Peace Keeping Forces in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to Falana, these soldiers were brought home and charged with mutiny, convicted and sentenced to various prisons terms including life imprisonment. He added that they were eventually re-instated by the Nigerian Army following the annulment of their conviction and sentences by the Court of Appeal.

"As you are no doubt familiar with the two cases cited above we are confident that you will use your good offices to ensure that this case is further revisited with a view to reinstating our clients whose rights and privileges have been restored following their pardon by the Army Council" Falana averred.

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