A military court has ordered that a Nigerian general who authorised the transportation of a large sum of money that was reportedly stolen by soldiers who conveyed the cash, be demoted and dismissed.
The general court-martial found Hakeem Oladapo Otiki, a major general due to retire this year, guilty of five charges and ordered that he should be sacked with “disgrace and dishonour”, PR Nigeria, which distributes statements for security agencies, reported Tuesday.
Mr Otiki was the General Officer Commanding of the Nigerian Army 8 Division in Sokoto in July 2019 when he sent five soldiers to haul cash from Sokoto to Abuja by road before the money allegedly got missing.
The court, headed by the army’s chief of policy and plans, Lamidi Adeosun, found Mr Otiki guilty of disobedience to service orders, theft of public property, diverting operational money and engaging in private businesses.
The tribunal ordered he be demoted from major general to brigadier general and dismissed.
The court also ordered that all monies totalling N135.8 million, $6,600 recovered be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army. It also ordered that another N150 million which could not be accounted for, be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
The judgement is, however, subject to approval of the army council.
In his final submission, Mr Otiki’s lead lawyer, Israel Olorundare, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, pleaded for clemency and urged the Nigerian Army to show mercy.
Mr Olorundare told the court that the accused officer had returned N100 million that was stolen by the soldiers detailed to escort the money to Kaduna, and that some of the projects for which N150 million was released to Mr Otiki were either completed or about to be completed.
Mr Olorundare told the court that the accused officer is the breadwinner of his family.
He said: “A career built for 35 years is coming to an end on a very sad note.”
After the sentencing, the lawyer said the defence will make a representation to the appropriate convening authority to note that Mr Otiki did not steal the transported money, and that he was the one who reported the incident.
“Aside from this, he still sourced for the money and returned it to the authorities. So, there is really a need to take another look at the judgement,” he said.
PRNigeria reported that Mr Otiki whose wife is seriously ill, is also sick and was brought to the premises of the court-martial on a wheelchair.
Mr Otiki was appointed GOC of 8 Division in March 2019. Before the appointment, he was the Commander Infantry Corps in Jaji, Kaduna.
PRNigeria reported that the accused officer was a contemporary of the president of the court martial, Mr Adeosun, a lieutenant general. Both were admitted to the Nigerian Defence Academy at different times in 1983.
Other members of the general court-martial include A. Tarfa, major-general; F.O Agbugor, major-general; F.A. Nadu, major-general; N. Mohammed, major-general; C.T. Olukotu, major-general and C.C. Okonkwo, major-general.
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