The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has preferred a criminal charge against former chief of army staff, Lt-General Kenneth Minimah, for allegedly diverting N13 billion meant for procurement of arms.
He was charged alongside A. O. Adetayo, former chief of accounts and budget of the Nigerian Army, and R. I. Odi, former director, finance and accounts of the Nigerian Army, before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The EFCC stated in its filings that it received a report on August 15, 2016 from the Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces (CADEP) from 2007 to 2015, chaired by Jon Ode.
The report alleged that between 2010 and 2015, “several billions of Naira were received by the Nigerian army from the federal government for procurement of military hard-wares and were discovered to have been misappropriated by senior army officers”.
The anti-graft agency said the report revealed that the defendants misappropriated the sum of N13,798,619,309.
“The sums were transferred from various accounts belonging to the Nigerian army and moved to company accounts of entities that had no business relations with the Nigerian army,” the EFCC stated.
“This caused huge loss to the Nigerian army and the federal government of Nigeria through the unlawful gains made by the aforementioned officers who converted the monies for their personal use.
“The legal advice on the investigation opined that a prima facie case has been sustained against the Officers”, EFCC added.
It said the outcome of the investigation led to the filing of charges against the three officers named in the alleged fraud.
Consequently, the EFCC said it wrote to the Nigerian Army, requesting the three officers to make themselves available for arraignment.
The defendants have filed a suit before the Abuja federal high court challenging the legality of the charges preferred against them.
Among other issues for determination, the defendants, through their team of lawyers led by Mahmud Magaji, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), are praying the court to determine;
“Whether in view of Sections 6(3), (5) (a), 240 and 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Sections 113, 114 (1), (2) 8(3), 123, 124, 126(1), (2) 8. (4) and 270 of the Armed Forces Act, Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Plaintiffs are not subject to be charged arraigned and /or prosecuted only by a court martial as a court of first instance, to the exclusion of any other trial Court, viz: the federal high court, high court of the federal capital territory, and high court of states, in respect of any offence committed by them.”
Upon the determination of the issues, they are seeking, “an order of this honourable court restraining the defendants whether by themselves, agents, privies, servants, or howsoever called from investigating, charging, arraigning and or prosecuting the Plaintiffs for any allege offences or misconduct while subject to the Nigerian armed forces service Law”.
Defendants in the suit are the attorney-general of the federation and the EFCC.
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In an affidavit deposed to by one Benjamin Anchi, the plaintiffs said they were not allowed to explain their side of the story before the EFCC took the matter to court.
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