Olaleye Aluko, Abuja
The Nigerian Army on Tuesday began the trial of the former General Officer Commanding, 8 Division, Sokoto State, Maj Gen Hakeem Otiki, over the alleged diversion of the sum of N400 million by some soldiers in the division.
The trial at the General Court Martial, which sat at the Army Officers’ Mess, Asokoro, began at about 12:30pm, and is ongoing at the time of filing this report.
The General Court Martial is presided over by the army’s Chief of Policy and Plans, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj Gen Lamidi Adeosun.
The Nigerian Army had on July 21 begun the quizzing of the former GOC, the missing N400 million said to have been stolen by escort soldiers in the division.
The former GOC had been interrogated by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Special Intelligence Bureau and the Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police.
Five soldiers had been confirmed to have carted away a consignment containing the money, while on an escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna states in the first week of July 2019.
The money was allegedly to be delivered to a Very-Important Personality in Kaduna.
The army’s spokesman in 8 Division, Lieutenant Audu Arigu, had confirmed the incident, adding that investigation had commenced into the incident.
He identified the runaway soldiers as Corporal Gabriel Oluwaniyi, Corporal Mohammed Aminu, one Corporal Haruna, Oluji Joshua and Hayatudeen.
Army sources said the runaway soldiers perfected their escape by turning in their rifles and their mobile phones at the Infantry Corps in Jaji, Kaduna State, on the day of theft before they escaped.
On September 5, our correspondent had reported that Otiki was undergoing a course at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Badagry, Lagos State.
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, had confirmed this to our correspondent through a chat, when asked the whereabouts of the major general.
When asked where Maj Gen Hakeem Otiki was, the army spokesman, Musa replied, “Posted to ASCON on course.”
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, had on July 23 assured during a press conference that the outcome of the ongoing investigations on the former GOC would be made public.
On Tuesday, the military formally began the trial of Otiki, as sources said he was summoned from Lagos State to undergo the court process.
The outcome of the court proceedings is still being awaited as of the time of filing this report.
There was, however, drama at the general court-martial as the lawyer to the defendant, Otiki, said he was not comfortable to have Lt Gen Lamidi Adeosun head the court, as he was an interested party in the case.
The lawyer, Okechukwu Adinu, asked that Adeosun recused himself from the trial.