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Court martial sacks Major-General Otiki over N400m theft

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A military court has ordered that a former General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Major-General Hakeem Otiki, who authorised the transportation of a large sum of money that was reportedly stolen by soldiers conveying the cash, be demoted and dismissed.

The court-martial found him guilty of N400 million theft. Otiki had, in July 2019, sent five soldiers to haul cash from Sokoto 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.

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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 and subsequently demoted and dismissed him from service “with disgrace and dishonour.”

A part of his sentence included a reduction of his rank to brigadier-general with two-year seniority on the count three and severe reprimand on the 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 Lieutenant-General Lamidi Adeosun, is subject to approval by the army council.

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His trial started in September 2019 amid intense drama at the sitting in Abuja. In his final submission, Otiki’s lead lawyer, Israel Olorundare, pleaded for clemency and urged the Nigerian Army to show mercy.

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

Otiki were either completed or about to be completed.

Olorundare said the accused officer is the breadwinner of his family, pleading that “a career built for 35 years is coming to an end on a very sad note.”

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