Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The General Court Martial convened to try former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, has struck out his objections for lack of merit.
Otiki is standing trial for alleged N400 million stolen by soldiers under his command. The five soldiers who were declared wanted by the Nigerian Army vanished after they were instructed to deliver the money to an important personality in Kaduna.
Otiki had at the inauguration of the court marshal on Tuesday objected to the retention of the Army Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt General Lamidi Adeosun, as the president of the court on the ground that he was an interested party and would not be fair to the accused during the trial.
Otiki’s counsel, Major Femi Oyebanjo (rtd) had predicated his objections on the ground that Lt General Adeosun bore a grudge against Otiki, whom he claimed joined the army before him.
He also claimed that the soldiers, who absconded with N400 million were security personnel inherited from General Adeosun, who was then Army Director of Operations.
Otiki insisted that the wanted soldiers were Adeosun’s aides and inner security inherited by him.
Since the missing money and the soldiers were the issues for deliberation at the court martial and having inherited them from Adeosun, the defence counsel posited that for the sake of justice, Adeosun should step aside as the president of the court marshal.
THISDAY gathered that the court struck out Otiki’s objections for lack of merit. It said his objections were “emotional”.
On the inherited soldiers and security personnel, the court ruled that Major General Otiki was at liberty to “reject his security” and call for replacement but choose to retain them until they stole the money and absconded.
On the issue of joining the army before Adeosun, the court maintained that seniority in the army is determined by rank. It held that as it stands, Adeosun is a Lt General while Otiki is a Major General.
The court martial, therefore, struck out Otiki’s objections for lack of merit.