Molly Kilete, Abuja
The General Court Martial set up by the Nigerian army to try the former General Officer Commanding(GOC), Major-General Hakeem Otiki, has dismissed him from service.
The GCM, headed by Lieutenant-General Lamidi Adeosun found the former GOC guilty on all the five counts charges filed against him. The former GOC was charged for Stealing N100 million and N160, respectively money belonging to the Nigerian army in count one and two and disobedience to standing order under section 66 of the Armed Forces Act(AFA), on count three, four and five respectively. The pronouncement is however subject to confirmation from the Army Council.
The Court which started at exactly 7:55 monday night and held at the army headquarters command officers Mess, Asokoro, pronounced the judgement at exactly 23:13 hours.
The GCM sentenced the former GOC to dismissal with disgrace and dishonor on count one, dismissal with disgrace on count two, reduction to the rank of brigadier General with two years seniority, severe reprimand on count four and two years loss of seniority on the rank of Major-General.
All the sentences are subject to approval by army council.
Otiki, an infantry officer was accused of stealing money allocated to the 8 Division Nigerian army Sokoto. The said money which was supposed to be in the custody of the Finance Officer of the division was said to have been diverted by the senior officer who was also accused of engaging in private business other than the army job.
But the Defence counsel while appealing to the court for leniency on his client, said the accused had already returned the money which he was being charged for and that most of the projects he was accused of embarking on had been completed or are at various stages of completion
He also said accused officer was due for retirement this year and that he is very sick and that his wife was down with cancer. He said the officer lost his mother last July and is the bread winner of his family. “For this reason we ask the court to temper justice with mercy.
“By next month, which is July, the accused senior officer would have been in incarceration for almost one year. So we plead that your lordship look at the officer with compassion”. The Defence counsel pleaded with the court.
The GCM, which has Major-General Lamidi Adeosun as president and Major A Mohammed as Judge also has
Major-Generals AA Tarfa , FO Agugo,JS Malu, M Mohammed and Maj Gen CT Olukoju, as members while Major General CC Okonkwo, is the waiting member.
The GCM, was inaugurated on Tuesday September, 17, 2019.
Otiki, was arrested and placed under house arrest and moved to Abuja after Five soldiers belonging to his escort had sometimes in July, absconded with over N100 million while providing security for a Very Important personality to Kaduna. The soldiers who are now in the run include Coporals Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Mohammed Aminu, Lance Corporals Commander Haruna, Oluji Joshua, and Hayatudee, all soldiers of Operation Harbin Kunama III of the Nigerian Army 8 Division.
The soldiers along side a relative of the former GOC, were said to have abandoned their service riffles, uniforms, mobile telephones and other military accoutrements and escaped with the loot. Reports also had it that the soldiers who may have been planning the operation after being sent on several occasion to deliver huge sums of money by their principal, also relocated their families from the barracks at Jaji, in Kaduna state thus making it very difficult for the military authorities to track and arrest them.
However, one of the soldier who refused to participate in the illegal act, was said to have reported the matter to the authorities. The said soldier was also said to have returned the sum of N16million.
The former GOC, who was placed in custody of the SIB, at the Shehu Yaradua barracks Abuja, was later placed on house arrest at his residence in Abuja.
The Defence counsel in an interview frowned against the judgement of the court especially after his client had returned the stolen money to army authorities and vowed to make a representation to the army council on the matter.
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