If the Nigerian Army authorities get the nod of President Muhammadu Buhari, all suspected serving officers in the ongoing investigation into the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal will undergo military trial, The PUNCH has learnt.
A competent government source confided in our correspondent on Sunday that military authorities had sought the President’s permission for the officers to be prosecuted under the Armed Forces Act.
He said the position of the military was that the Armed Forces Act had made provision for such infractions on the part of military men and how to handle their cases.
The source said the argument for military trial for the officers was further strengthened by the fact that the money, which is the subject of the investigation, was meant for the procurement of arms for the Nigerian Armed Forces.
He said, “The military authorities have suggested to the Federal Government that all serving officers, found culpable in the ongoing investigation into the arms procurement scandal, be tried under the Armed Forces Act rather than being tried in regular courts.
“You may recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has returned Col. Ojogbane Adegbe, the former Aide-de-Camp to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, to the military authorities after he was interrogated.
“A former Military Assistant in the Office of the National Security Adviser, Col. Nicholas Ashinze, had also been confined to the Officers’ Mess by the military authorities after his initial detention by the anti-graft agency.
“The pending request to try and them and 11 other serving military chiefs using the Armed Forces Act may be responsible for this.”
The source, however, said the military authorities had yet to receive the permission to go ahead as of the time of filing this report on Sunday.
He said in arriving at a decision, the President might rely on the advice of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the EFCC.
The Presidency had recently handed over a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), and 17 others, including 11 serving senior military officers and 22 companies, to the EFCC for investigation into the alleged $2.1bn arms deals.
Apart from Badeh, others under investigation are ex-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal M. D. Umar; a former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); Col. N. Ashinze; a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu; the most senior Air Force officer, AVM A. M. Mamu (the Chief of Administration); and AVM O. T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters).
Others are AVM R. A. Ojuawo (Air Officer, Tactical Air Command, Makurdi); AVM J. B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF); and AVM J. A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); AVM T. Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings); four top officers at the Defence Headquarters, Air Cdre A. O. Ogunjobi, Air Cdre G. M. D Gwani, Air Cdre S. O. Makinde, and Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa.
culled from www.punchng.com