Army court martial sacks major-general for ‘N400m’ theft

Nigerian army court-martial prosecuting Hakeem Otiki, a major-general and former general officer commanding (GOC), for N400 million theft, has found him guilty.

At its sitting at the army headquarters garrison in Abuja on Monday night, the court-martial found him guilty on all the five-count charges against him and subsequently dismissed him from service “with disgrace and dishonour”.

A part of his sentence includes a reduction of his rank to brigadier general with two years seniority on count three and severe reprimand on count four.

The panel also ordered that various sums of money, including $6,600, said to have been recovered from him be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian army.

The sentence of the court-martial, headed by Lamidi Adeosun, a lieutenant-general, is subject to approval by the army council.

The major general was charged under the armed forces act (AFA) after soldiers in his detail reportedly stole money estimated to be N400 million.

His trial started in September 2019 amid intense drama at the sitting in Abuja.

He was the general officer commanding of the Nigerian army 8 division in Sokoto who sent some soldiers to transport some cash to Kaduna by road from where it would be taken to Abuja.

A military aircraft was said to be waiting in Kaduna but the soldiers plotted to steal the money during a stop in Kaduna and subsequently deserted the army.

Otiki was then arrested after the theft and placed under house arrest until his trial by the court-martial.

When his trial started in 2019, Femi Oyebanjo, a retired major and counsel to Otiki, kicked against his client’s prosecution under Adeosun’s leadership.

He had told the panel head: “We have it on good authority that you bear grudge against our client. We have this deep feeling that he may not get a fair trial under your leadership.”

There were speculations the friction between the duo was regarding who would succeed Tukur Buratai as chief of army staff.


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