Army Court-martial Dismisses General over N260m Theft

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•Seeks disgraceful exit, demotion for ex-GOC Otiki

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The General Court-martial constituted to try a former General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Oladapo Otiki, has found him guilty and recommended his dismissal, with disgrace, from service for stealing N260 million from the military.

The court-martial, headed by the Army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt. Gen Lamidi Adeosun, found Otiki guilty of disobedience to service orders, theft of public property, among others.
The court-martial pronounced his dismissal from service with disgrace and dishonour, demotion from the rank of Major General to Brigadier-General and severe reprimand.
The sentences are subject to the confirmation of the Army Council.

The court-martial ordered that all monies totalling N135.8million, $6,600 recovered by the Special Investigation Bureau be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
Also, another N150 million stolen money, which could not be accounted for should also be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.

The former GOC was charged for stealing N100 million and N160 million, respectively 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 court-martial, which sat in Abuja and began delivering its judgment at 7:55p.m. on Monday night, pronounced the judgment at 23:13 hours.

The GCM sentenced the former GOC to dismissal with disgrace and dishonour 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.

In his final submission, the lead counsel for Otiki, Mr. Israel Olorundare (SAN), pleaded for clemency and urged the General Court-martial to temper justice with mercy.

He said Otiki, in all his years in the army, was a loyal and disciplined officer, well-mannered and a good manager of resources, which was attested to by Col. Nuhu Mohammed, Deputy Director, Records in the Office of the Military Secretary, Army, who read his resume.

The lawyer also told the court-martial that Otiki was the officer who facilitated and obtained the NNPC licence for the Nigerian Army and assisted in helping to tackle criminality in Lagos area during his time in charge of Operation Mesa.

On the various counts, the SAN said, in count one, the accused senior officer returned N100 million to the authorities, which was stolen by the soldiers detailed to escort the money to Kaduna.

On count two, he said it was proved that some of the projects for which N150 million was released to the accused senior officer were either completed or are ongoing and workers are still on site.
He urged the court-martial to consider that the accused was sick and also due for retirement this year.

Besides, he said, his wife had cancer and his mother died on the same July 2019 that soldiers taking the money to Kaduna stole it.
The counsel also described Otiki as the breadwinner of his family.
“A career built for 45 years is coming to an end on a very sad note,” he added.

After the court pronouncements and sentences, the SAN said the defence would make a representation to the appropriate convening authority to note that Otiki was not the one that stole the money and he was the one who reported the incident.

“Aside this, he still sourced for the money and returned it to the authorities. So, there is really need to take another look at the judgment,” he added.