*Urge Nigerian Senate to intervene
PARENTS of withdrawn and relegated officer cadets of Nigerian Defense Academy, NDA, Kaduna, Kaduna State, have raised alarm over what they described as undue, unjust and wrongful withdrawal of their children numbering 53 Officer cadets and relegation of nine others, without due process.
The parents under the aegis of Concerned Parents of Withdrawn Cadet Officers in a protest letter to the National Assembly, copy of which was made available to newsmen, decried that the fundamental human rights of their children were breached.
The parents in the letter dated 7th February, 2020, and addressed to the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawal, through Senator Ali Ndume, urged the red chamber to prevail on the NDA management to review their decision with a view to recalling the affected students.
Noting that the unjust withdrawal and relegation of the students was capable of causing more security threat,
he said they were writing the Senate President to help them resolve the burning and tortuous punishment allegedly meted out on their children by NDA Commandant, Major General Jamil Sarham, which is capable of encouraging the cadets who are already trained on the use of arms into crime.
Akiri in the letter said: “On the 22nd of January, 2020, we were shocked to hear from our children, of this ugly situation, via telephone calls and messages that the Commandant had gathered them and told them of a situation, which is outside the general rules and regulations of the academy, based on the academic handbook.
“We are aware that withdrawals and relegation are usually done at end of every academic year, when there is always a dossier review. And the last of such was in October, in line with the normal routine and practice.
“Surprisingly, the cadets were shocked to see another Dossier Review in January 2020, which is an aberration and in our view, to justify some of the wrong actions of the academy’s administration, in the past. It should be noted that some of these cadets have already done their convocations and Passing Out Parades, POP. That in effect means that the Academy does not have any right to withdraw or relegate them anymore,” adding that the students should be reinstated and allowed to write their final examinations”.
They recalled that some time in 2019, “They did same to a cadet whose parents sought redress from the Senate and the Academy on noticing their errors within the system, decided to make new rules, which they now want to implement, and retrospectively too to the disadvantage of some cadets, who by all means are not supposed to be affected by such new rules.
“Most annoying is the fact that in some cases, charges for some cadets, which had been tried and found not guilty and thereby dismissed, were brought back to still count for them”.
While pleading with the Senate to help in redressing the anomaly, they said: “another angle of the pain is that these cadets were handcuffed and put in the guardroom, for no just cause. It should also be be put on record that for 36 hours, from 6.30 am on January 22 and all through the night when they were brought in till 5 pm of the next day, when they were eventually released to their parents, they were without food! At the appropriate time we will release the videos and photographs of their torture for the world to see”.
One of the affected cadets (names withheld) who corroborated Prince Akiri’s statement, said:, “We were taken out of the NDA headquarter in handcuffs to our respective rooms to be de-kitted. That done, they took us to the guardroom, where we were locked up the whole night without food till late evening the next day when our parents came for us. They initially denied us access to telephone to enable us reach our parents and intimate them of our predicaments.
“We were only freed and allowed to leave the academy after our parents completed some formalities, which included signing of undertaking, and my request to unfrozen my compulsory savings account with First City Monument Bank in the Cadet’s Brigade Branch.
“I see no justification for them to handcuff us while our detention lasted like common criminals and without food for 36 hours. We did not deserve such ill-treatment for opting to serve our father’s land”.
Meanwhile, a former NDA commandant, now retired, who was also present during the POP of the 67th Regular Course, reportedly said; “the action of the Academy concerning the cadets was strange and totally unacceptable. Even if an offence has been established against the nine officer cadets, the management of the academy should be held responsible for their inability to carry out such Dossier Review before their POP on 5th October, 2019.
“There is no justification whatsoever for the NDA to delay such Dossier Review till after their convocation and POP, and while signals have already been sent to their new stations. The flimsy excuse by Major. Gen. Sarham that his actions were to restore sanity in the military institution is insensitive and cannot be justified to punish poor cadets that have absolutely no hands in the failure of NDA management to to promptly and time do the right thing.
“Virtually all the 53 Officer cadets that were withdrawn were sufficiently trained on weapons handling, military training and operations: and allowing such huge number to go into our society, with their frustrations will be suicidal and against national security, if this is not reversed, the country will pay dearly for it in months or years to come, because I am certain that frustration may lead some of them into all kinds of crime. Aside from that, government has spent huge sum of money on them”,
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Defense and the Senate to, as a matter of urgent national importance, intervene in the matter. It was reported that one of the withdrawn cadets, had attempted suicide by hanging when the shocking and unfortunate news was communicated to them at the Academy.