Crime

Missing cash: N135m recovered from Gen. before court martial

Some N135 million has been recovered from Maj-Gen. Hakeem Otiki who has been accused of stealing and diverting the Nigerian Army’s cash.

The General, who is standing trial on five counts before a Court Martial, has pleaded not guilty.

He has been battling for the leave of the tribunal to allow him to travel for medical treatment to Florida United States (U.S.).

Besides, Gen. Otiki has pleaded with the tribunal to unfreeze his account which was placed under Post No Debit (PND) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It was learnt that about N160 million was released from the Army to its Sokoto Division to cater for the special intervention.

The cash was, however, lost in transit between Sokoto and Kaduna and the General was alleged to have detailed his escorts to guard one Alhaji Abo Aliu from Sokoto to Kaduna with the sum of  N100,000,000.00 and $86,000.00.

But between Funtua and Zaria, the armed escorts in the Toyota Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) connived and robbed Alhaji Abo of the N100,000,000.00 and $86,000.00 that was given to him by the suspect.

After the robbery incident, Abo and his friend were taken to a nearby forest and they were dispossessed of their phones.

They (escorts) later gathered their weapons on the Buffalo SUV and the money was transferred into the Hilux that was conveying Abo.

Although the cash was allegedly being hauled to Kaduna for furniture purchase, detectives were said to have suspected some other motives.

The incident led to the arrest and trial of Gen. Otiki.

It was, however, learned that the prosecution witnesses, including investigators, have revealed at the ongoing trial how N135 million was recovered from the Army officer.

One of those who probed the allegations said: “In the course of the investigation, the team sent a letter to the General financial intelligence unit, requesting to connect the accused senior officer’s phone number with his bank details. We also wrote a letter to the Army intelligence, their tech unit, requesting a forensic analysis of the phone of the accused. The team also wrote a letter to the CAC.

“The team travelled from Abuja to Sokoto but before the travel, the team recorded the statement of the accused. After the initial statement, on the 19/07/19, he requested to make another statement and the request was granted. He has two statements made on the 19/07/19.

“On the 24/07/19, the team invited the officer for interrogation, on 06/08/19, the team recorded another statement of the accused. On 08/08/19, there was another session with the senior officer (another question and answer session).

“On 14/08/19, there was another question and answer session with the accused senior officer.

“The team proceeded to Sokoto on 25/07/19, where the team interviewed principal staff officers and other witnesses at Sokoto i.e S.D Headquarters. While in Sokoto, the team obtained documents important to this case, the team equally collected a committee report on barracks administration as well as executive summary from the committee.

“The team also inspected some of the projects that were ongoing at the division. Documents like the Harmonized Terms and Condition of Service of officers and the manual of collection of Armed forces 2018 were collected too. We also obtained authority from the collection of arms and ammunition from the commissioner of arms.

“Furtherance to the investigation, the team got hold of some monies that were carted away by the ‘accused’. The team recovered ?15,382,000.00 and $6,600.  Furthermore, another sum of N20,000,000.00 was also recovered in the course of this investigation.

“Another sum of N100,000,000.00 was equally recovered in the course of the investigation.”

As at press time, the embattled General was battling to secure the court’s nod to travel out for medical treatment abroad on or before October 15.

He said his health has been failing him having undergone a spinal cord surgery in the past.

Those on the defence team of the embattled Army General are:  Okechukwu Ajunwa, Femi Oyebanjo; Mike Kebunko and Kenneth Anyang have pleaded with the tribunal to allow their client to travel to the U.S. for treatment.

They said the Army officer would need a spine transplant.

The defence team said: “He has been detained and underwent an excruciating condition at the detention; as a result, he suffered severe pains in his lower back. After medical examinations, it was reported that he needs a spine transplant.

“The right to life is sacrosanct as granted in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, it is the only right that cannot be restored once it is lost. I refer this court to the case of Alhaji Toyin Jimoh vs. C.o.p (2006) 22 WRN, 77 at 85-86.

The prosecution objected to his request, arguing: “We have listened to the defence’s application, we are still saying that his application is hinged on nothing, there is nothing before this court, my learned counsel is not a medical doctor and such documents mean nothing before this court.

“Fundamental human rights are subject to certain conditions. First, I refer this court to Section 122(6) and 122 (e) Armed Forces Act, Chapter A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004. Secondly, these conditions amongst other things are to ensure the safety of the person standing trial. EFCC can arrest him if released.

-TheNation

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