By Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja
The General Court Martial set up by the Nigerian Army to try the General Officer Commanding 8 division, Sokoto Major Gen Hakeem Oladapo Otiki has found the senior officer guilty on all five counts and ordered his dismissal from service “with disgrace and dishonour.”
The Court headed by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Army, Lt. Gen Lamidi Adeosun found Major General Otiki Guilty of disobedience to service orders, theft of public property among others.
It pronounced the following punishments among others, dismissal from service with disgrace and dishonour, reduction in rank from Major General to Brig General, and severe reprimand.
The sentences are however subject to confirmation of the Army Council.
The Court also ordered that all monies totalling #135.8million, $6,600 recovered by the Special Investigation Bureau be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
It ordered that another #150million stolen money which could not be accounted for, should also be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
It added that all the sentences are subject to the approval of the appropriate convening authority.
Earlier in his final submission, the lead counsel for Major General Otiki, Barr. Israel Olorundare SAN, pleaded for clemency and urged the General Court Martial to temper justice with mercy saying it should not use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
He reminded the court that General Otiki in all his years in the Army leading to this point, was a very loyal officer, a disciplined officer and 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.
Aside from this, the senior advocate reminded the court that General Otiki was the officer who facilitated and obtained the NNPC licence for the Nigerian Army and assisted greatly in helping to tackle criminality in Lagos area during his time in Operation Mesa.
Regarding the various counts, the Senior Advocate said, in Count1, the accused senior officer returned the sum of #100million to the authorities which was stolen by the soldiers detailed to escort the money to Kaduna.
On Count 2, he said it was proved that some of the projects for which the sum of #150million was released to the accused senior officer were either completed or are ongoing and workers are still on site.
Furthermore, he urged the court to consider that the accused senior officer who is very sick, is also due for retirement this year. His wife has cancer and his mother died on the same July 2019 that soldiers taking the money to Kaduna robbed the money.
Aside this, Barr Olorundare reminded the court that Gen Otiki is the breadwinner of his family lamenting that, “A career built for 45 years is coming to an end on a very sad note.
After the court pronouncements and sentences, the Senior Advocate said the Defence will make a representation to the appropriate convening authority to note that General Otiki is not the one that robbed 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.”