A Special Army Court Martial has demoted a senior officer, Patrick Falola, from the rank of Major General to Brigadier-General, for admitting students for clinical training without permission from higher authorities.
Falola, who is the Director, 68 Military Reference Hospital, Yaba, Lagos State, was arraigned on a two-count charge before a court martial presided over by James Gbum, an Air Vice Marshal.
Falola had admitted international students from Espan Formation University, Cotonou, in Benin Republic, between July and September, 2016.
President of the Court Martial, Gbum, said Falola’s conduct amounted to fraudulent use of the armed forces’ property.
He acquitted Falola on the charge of conduct prejudicial to the service, but convicted him on fraudulent misapplication of the hospital’s property.
“This court is compelled to award a higher punishment under sections 103 and 66 of the Armed Forces Act Cap A 20 laws of the Federation 2004.
“The court has taken into consideration the service record of the convicted senior officer, the touching plea in mitigation by the defence counsel as well as the demeanor of the convicted officer. “But we have also taken into consideration the senior officer’s seniority, rank, experience and the regimental tradition of the armed forces.
“This court has discharged and acquitted the convicted officer on the first charge, on the second offence, the sentence is reduction in rank to Brigadier General,” he said.
Reacting to the judgment, the defence counsel, Enokela Onyilo-Uloko, a retired Wing Cdr., said the conviction had no legal backing and was an attempt to tarnish the clean record of his client.
Onyilo -Uloko said this was because there was no law stating that senior officers must take permission from higher authorities before allowing such training.
He said his client only did what his predecessors also did, which was no crime, adding that his client would appeal.