Contrary to reports in a national daily, former Chairman, Presidential implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS), Air Vice- Marshal Saliu Atawodi (Rtd) is not on trial for any offence as falsely reported.
In the report, AVM Atawodi was listed amongst 12 other military generals currently undergoing various court trials in the country bothering on alleged multibillion Naira fraud. The report claimed that AVM Atawodi was still undergoing trial for alleged N600 million fraud.
However, a statement by his media consultant, Hon Duro Meseko debunked the publication as a tissue of lies, adding that were the publishers of the said false story diligent in their report, they would have discovered that his client was not undergoing any trial.
â€œWe hereby make haste to say that AVM Atawodi is not undergoing any trial for fraud as mischievously claimed. Had the Newspaper done its homework well, it would have realised that the Appeal Court had on June 7, 2017 discharged and acquitted AVM Atawodi of any wrong doing in the alleged N600 million Fraud case instituted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against him.
â€œThe judgment of the court was lavishly used as news item by several national dailies, radio and television Stations.
â€œThe question is: What does the Newspaper stand to gain with this false and malicious publication? Else, how can the photograph and name of a citizen that has been discharged and acquitted by a competent Court of law be prominently displayed on the front page of a national daily still being accused of standing trial for fraud?
â€œAVM Atawodi is an award-winning Officer who retired without a single query from the Armed forces. He served selflessly and honestly with his reputation very intact.
â€œWe therefore make bold to say that the publication on AVM Atawodi is false, vexatious, malicious and libelous in its entirety,â€ Meseko said.
He however added that solicitors to his defamed client had been briefed on the matter
It will be recalled that the EFCC had arraigned Atawodi and one Rabiu Hassan of Hypertech Nigeria Ltd for allegedly defrauding the Federal Government the sum of N620 Million through suspicious contracts to procure K38 armoured patrol boats that were to be used to fight illegal oil bunkering on the Nationâ€™s waters.
But in her judgement at the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja on June 7, 2017, Justice Tani Hassan â€“ Yusuf discharged and acquitted Atawodi while Rabiu Hassan would continue his trial at the lower Court.
The judge declared that there was no single evidence linking AVM Atawodi with the alleged fraud and that he had no case to answer.