Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army has set up a General Court Martial (GCM), to try the former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division, Sokoto State, Major-General Hakeem Otiki, over the N400million allegedly stolen by his soldiers.
The GCM set up by the army headquarters, has Major-General Lamidi Adeosun as President and Major A Mohammed as Judge Advocate. Other members of the GCM, are Major-Generals AA Tarfa , FO Agugo, JS Malu, M Mohammed and Maj Gen CT Olukoju, while Major-General CC Okonkwo, are members.
The GCM which was inaugurated on Tuesday at the Army Headquarters Command Officers Mess, will commence sitting on Wednesday. The premises is being guarded by heavily-armed military police personnel to prevent those who are not supposed to be there to have access to the venue.
Gen. Otiki, who has been in custody of the Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), at Shehu Musa Yar Adua barracks, since July, 22, when he was moved alongside his finance officer from Sokoto is said to be on house arrest.
Our correspondent had exclusively reported how soldiers who happened to be official escort of the former GOC had diverted a whooping N400, million while on an errand to deliver the said amount to an unknown destination in Kaduna State.
The soldiers who carried out the act alongside with one of the younger brothers of the officer, abandoned their service weapons, uniforms, mobile telephones, and other military accouterments and disappeared. The soldiers who were believed to have been planning the act for a long time, also relocated their families from Jaji barracks where they lived before they disappeared.
However, one of the soldiers who was also in the escort of the former GOC, but refused to join his colleagues to perpetrate the crime was said to have reported the matter to army authorities. The soldier was said to have returned N14, million cash which was supposed to have been his share from the loot to the authorities.
Our correspondent had reported that the incident which gave the army sleepless nights, was not going to be swept under the carpet.
It was also gathered that reports making the rounds that the soldiers went away with billions of naira was not true as the exact amount stolen on the day of the incident July 11, was N400m.
However, sources say the total amount being transported by the GOC’s escort might be running into billions as the incident of July 11, when the soldiers made away with the money was not the first or second time they were asked to transport huge sums of money for their principal.
Otiki, who was brought into Abuja under very tight security, was taken straight to the SIB office where is currently being detained.
A top military source who did not want to be mentioned said: “I can assure you that the senior has been moved to Abuja. He was moved along with his finance officer because it is believed that the FO, must know something about the money.”
The also said that heads may roll at the end with the way the investigation was going as the investigators were trying to unravel where the money was being transported to, who was at the receiving end, those involved in the racketeering and most importantly where the money was coming from.
Another source who also did not want to be mentioned, said “for now, he is in custody with the SIB, for further investigation after the investigation in Sokoto.
The escapee soldiers who included Corporal Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Corporal Mohammed Aminu, Lance Corporal Commander Haruna, Lance Corporal Oluji Joshua, and Lance Corporal Hayatudeen Abubakar are yet to be tracked by army authorities.