NEWS NEWSMAN INVESTIGATES

Confusion over actual amount of army money stolen by soldiers in Sokoto 8 Division, Judgment ready

NEWSMAN, Abuja – There was confusion on Monday as the General Court Martial set up to hear parties on the alleged stolen monies belonging to the Nigerian Army on Monday revealed that the amount was N100million rather than the earlier reported N400million.

Judgment on the case was set to be delivered on Monday night at 7pm by President of the General Court Martial, Lt. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun after a lengthy day of hearing the case details by the army judge advocate who marshaled out the points made by the prosecution and defence during the trial that began since last September.

Earlier during the day at the resumed case for judgment between the Nigerian Army and Maj. Gen. Hakeem Otiki on Monday, the Judge Advocate of the court martial, Major A. Mohammed had in an over three hours address of the case profile outlined the processes engaged by the General Court Martial from its composition to the hearing, summons of witnesses, presentation of evidence and final address by the prosecution and defence counsels.

The accused Major General Otiki was seen on wheelchair facing the court martial due to an earlier surgery on his spine that is due for renewal, as he awaited judgment.

The judge advocate said the prosecution in its final address had insisted that the military court martial should impose harsh punishment on Major General Otiki for stealing and negligence of duties.

The judge advocate in his final address also indicated that evidence during hearing of the case showed that the missing money in question was N100million carted away by the deserting soldiers and not N400million and that the defence counsel informed the court martial that the accused had immediately returned the money in less than 24 hours.

Soldiers under Maj. Gen. Otiki’s command were said to have been assigned the money to be delivered to a senior officer in Kaduna to purchase furniture for the 8th Division Sokoto while on escort duties but absconded with the monies including the sum of 86,000 dollars belonging to the senior officer in July 2019.

The soldiers were on escort duties to Kaduna to fetch ammunition for the division from military authorities, the judge advocate said.

“The sum of One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000.00)…has already been refunded with effect from 12 July 2019, within 24 hours after the unfortunate incident of 11 July 2019, as averred by Brig-Gen. Inuwa, erstwhile Finance Officer of 8 Division before the General Court Martial”, one document sighted at the court martial revealed.

According to the judge advocate, in the defence address, it had been canvassed at past hearings that the court should see the immediate return of the stolen amount as a sign of goodwill and respect for military procedures hence there was no reason for the army to charge Otiki for stealing based on Counts 1 and 2 as contained in the 5-count charge sheet before the court martial.

But on the contrary, the judge advocate said that the prosecution felt that Otiki was wrong to have authorised the removal of the funds in the first place regardless of its replacement after the incident.

At the resumed hearing for judgment on Monday, President of the Court Martial, Lt. General Lamidi Adeosun said that after listening to the case profile and admonition by the Judge Advocate of the court, he was moving the final ruling of the court by four hours till 7pm for the six-man jury to make a final ruling on the case.

The court then adjourned temporarily to resume at 7pm for ruling on the case.

The trial has been on since September 2019 when the case began.

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