The General Court Martial of the Nigerian Army has found Major Gen Hakeem Oladapo Otiki, who is due to retire this year, guilty on five counts and ordered his demotion and dismissal from the military with disgrace and dishonour.
Otiki was General Officer Commanding 8 division (GOC) of the Nigerian Army 8 Division in Sokoto in July 2019 when he sent five soldiers in his detail to haul some cash from Sokoto to Abuja via Kaduna before the money allegedly got missing.
The Court headed by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Army, Lt. Gen Lamidi Adeosun found Otiki guilty of disobedience to service orders, theft of public property, diverting operational money and engaging in private businesses.
The tribunal therefore, pronounced the following punishments: dismissal from service with disgrace and dishonour, reduction in rank from Major General to Brig General, and severe reprimand.
The cCourt also ordered that all monies totaling N135.8 million, $6,600 recovered by the Special Investigation Bureau be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army. It ordered that another N150 million stolen money which could not be accounted for, should also be returned to the coffers of the Nigerian Army.
All the sentences, however, are subject to approval by the Army Council.
In a final submission, the lead counsel to Major General Otiki, Israel Olorundare, SAN pleaded for clemency and urged the Nigerian Army to temper justice with mercy.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria told the court that the accused senior officer had returned N100 million which was stolen by the soldiers detailed to escort the money to Kaduna and that some of the projects for which the sum of N150 million was released to General Otiki were either completed or about to be completed.
Olorundare told the court that the accused officer is the breadwinner of his family.
The lawyer said: “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 stole the money and he was the one who reported the incident.
“Aside from 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.”
PRNigeria gathered that General Otiki whose wife has cancer, is also so ill that he was brought to the court in wheelchair. The officer had lost his mother in July 2019 when the incident of alleged missing money occurred.
Major General Oladapo Otiki was appointed General Officer Commanding 8 Division, Nigerian Army, Sokoto, in March 2019 and Force Commander of Operation SHARAN DAJI and Operation Harbin Kunama III. Before the appointment, he was the Commander Infantry Corps (CIC) in Jaji
PRNigeria further gathered that the accused officer was a contemporary of the President of the Court martial and Chief of Operation of the Nigerian Army. General Otiki enrolled in the Nigerian Defence Academy on 10th January 1983 while Lt General Adeosun joined on 4th July 1983.