The Nigerian Army has recalled 3,032 soldiers who were summarily dismissed from the service last year for alleged offences in relation to the defunct Operation Zaman Lafiya.
The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said during a briefing in Abuja on Thursday that the 3, 032 soldiers were among 5,000 dismissed soldiers whose cases were recently reviewed by a panel set up by the Army authorities at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
He stated, however, that the panel led by the General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, did not grant pardon to soldiers who were dismissed for criminal cases.
He explained that some of the soldiers dismissed for criminal cases had the judgments delivered against them upheld.
He stressed that while some of the soldiers were pardoned, others even got stiffer penalties against charges levelled against them.
Usman said, “You may recall that the Nigerian Army, some time ago, instituted a committee to review the recent disciplinary cases in the service especially of those soldiers in the defunct Op Zaman Lafiya, the aim of which was to ensure discipline, regimentation and justice in the system.
“The committee has concluded its sitting last week and has made certain recommendations that led to the reinstatement of 3,032 soldiers into the Nigerian Army out of 5,000 cases that were reviewed.
“The reinstated soldiers have shown total readiness to be relaunched into the theatre to combat insurgency and have now commenced a retraining exercise at the Nigerian Army Training Centre, Kontagora, Niger State.
“This training is to reorient the affected soldiers and prepare them for this closing stage of the operational aspect of the counter insurgency operations with more weapons and new leadership.
“It must, however, be made clear that not all the dismissed soldiers were granted pardon and recalled. Those with criminal cases, for instance, have their sentences upheld.”
The PUNCH had reported exclusively last month during the sitting of the panel that the Army had recalled 2,500 soldiers who were undergoing reorientation training for deployment in the North-East at the Nigerian Army Peacekeeping Centre, Kotangora.
Usman, who also commented on the cases of the 66 soldiers condemned to die by firing squad last year, said that their cases had gone to the Appeal Court. The Acting Army Spokesman who said that the soldiers had filed for appeal said that the judicial process was ongoing.
He admitted that while there were some territories still under the control of the Boko Haram, he was optimistic that all such territories would be recovered within the three-month deadline given to the military to end the counter insurgency by the President.