A military court has ordered the dismissal of the former head of an elite division of the Nigerian army Major-General Hakeem Oladapo Otiki. A General Court Martial (GCM), found Mr Otiki, who was once the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian army’s eight Division Sokoto, guilty on all five charges levelled against him.
Lieutenant General Lamidi Adeosun, the head of the court, found Major General Otiki guilty of disobedience to service orders, theft of public property and three other crimes. The sentence is subject to confirmation by the Army Council.
The court pronounced his dismissal from service with disgrace and dishonour, reduction in rank from Major General to Brigadier-General, and a severe reprimand.
The military court also ordered that all monies totalling N135.8million, $6,600 recovered by the Special Investigation Bureau be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
The court also ordered that an additional N150 million which was still missing, should be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
The former GOC was charged for stealing N100 million and N160 million, respectively belonging to the Nigerian army in count one and two and disobedience to standing order under section 66 of the Armed Forces Act (AFA), on count there, four and five respectively.
The Court which started at exactly 7:55 Monday night and held at the army headquarters Command Officers’ Mess, Asokoro, pronounced the judgement at exactly 23:13 hours.
The GCM sentenced the former GOC to dismissal with disgrace and dishonor on count one, dismissal with disgrace on count two, reduction to the rank of brigadier-general with two years seniority, severe reprimand on count four and two years loss of seniority on the rank of Major-General.
In his final submission, the lead counsel for Major General Otiki, Israel Olorundare, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) asked for clemency and reminded the court that General Otiki in all his years in the Army leading to the trial was a very loyal and disciplined officer, well mannered and a good manager of resources which was attested to by Colonel Nuhu Mohammed, Deputy Director, Records in the office of the Military Secretary, Army, who read his resume.
The senior advocate also reminded the court that General Otiki was the officer who facilitated and obtained a licence from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and assisted greatly in helping to tackle criminality in Lagos area during his time in charge of Operation MESA.
Olorundare argued that on Count 1, Otiki returned the sum of N100million 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 N150million 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 was very sick, was also due for retirement this year. He also added that Otiki’s wife had cancer and that his mother died in July 2019, the same month that junior soldiers stole the monies.
The lawyer reminded the court that General Otiki was his family’s breadwinner. “A career built for 45 years is coming to an end on a very sad note,” he said.
After the court pronouncements and sentences, the Senior Advocate said the defence approach the appropriate convening authority to tender evidence that General Otiki did not steal any 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”, Olorundare argued.