Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
Counsel to the immediate past General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, who was convicted and sentenced last week on various charges after soldiers serving under him absconded with N100million belonging to the army last year said the legal team is weighing available options before taking the next line of action.
Otiki’s conviction by the Lt. General Lamidi Adeosun-led court-martial is subject to the confirmation of the Nigerian Army Council.
Otiki’s fate presently hangs on the final decision of the Army Council before taking the next legal steps.
Otiki was last week convicted on all five count charges brought against him by army authorities and demoted to the rank of Brigadier-General by the army court martial.
It also dismissed the former GOC with “disgrace and dishonour”.
Counsel to the convicted senior army officer, Mr. Israel Olorundare (SAN), said in a statement that the conviction and sentencing by the General Court Martial “did not reflect the realities on ground, facts, witnesses called and evidences tendered” hence they looked forward to a favourable response from the Army Council on the matter.
Some retired and serving military officers who analysed the conviction and sentencing but preferred anonymity said Otiki may get a reprieve at the Nigerian Army Council as he was not directly linked to the money stolen by soldiers but “had to be convicted to make the army look good in the eyes of the public and also because of his role as the accounting officer of the funds”.
“There was too much misinformation about the actual amount stolen by the deserting soldiers and the army authorities do not want to make it look like they are shielding one of their own before the public but the facts have now been revealed as N100million stolen and not N400million by the deserting soldiers.
“Otiki was only indicted using the Manual of Financial Administration for the Armed Forces of Nigeria (MAFA) 2017 because the funds, though being conveyed by soldiers, were deemed to still have been under his custody as the chief accounting officer of the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army in Sokoto,” a military source knowledgeable on the matter said.