EFCC charges ex-Army chief, others, with N13 billion fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Kenneth Minimah, a former Chief of Army Staff, with fraud involving alleged misappropriation of N13 billion meant for arms purchase.

Mr Minimah was charged alongside an erstwhile Chief of Accounts and Budget of the Nigerian Army, A. O. Adetayo, a major-general, and the former Director, Finance and Accounts of the Nigerian Army, R. I. Odi, a brigadier-general, at the Federal Capital Territory High in Abuja.

It would be recalled that a former Chief of Air Staff, Alex Badeh, a former Chief of Air Staff, who rose to become the Chief of Defence Staff, was charged with money laundering.

He was on trial until he was killed in an ambush in December 2018.

Report of investigation

The EFCC said it had received a report by the Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces from 2007- 2015, chaired by retired Nigerian Air Force officer, Jon Ode.

It said 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.”

How N13 billion was allegedly siphoned

The charges “revealed that the sum of Thirteen Billion, Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight Million, Six Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Nine Naira (N13,798,619,309) was misappropriated by the following persons: Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. A.O Adetayo, one-time Chief of Accounts and Budget, Nigerian Army and then Colonel R.I Odi, former Director, Finance and Accounts, Nigerian Army”.

“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.

“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,” the charge disclosed,” the documents added.

The EFCC said the outcome of its investigation led to the filing of the charges against the three officers named in the alleged fraud

As a result of its findings, the EFCC, said it wrote the Nigerian Army, requesting the three officers to make themselves available for arraignment it said would have taken place since September 15, 2020.

Defendants challenge suit’s competence

Meanwhile, Mr Minimah and his co-defendants have approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, to challenge the competence of the charges against the.

Mahmud Magaji, a lawyer to the defendants, argued that the audit committee on alleged misappropriation of procurement of military hardware, “only referred the case to the 2nd defendant (EFCC) for further investigation and not to proceed to file criminal charges against the plaintiffs.”

The Generals are insisting that they are still subject to service law (the Armed Forces Act). The plaintiffs argued that, “if any military officer under the service law of the Nigerian Army commit an offence, it is reported in form of a charge to the commanding officer of the accused person for investigation and trial if necessary.

“That Nigeria Army has its rules and statutory mechanisms for the administration of Criminal Justice.

“That military officer under the service law can only be prosecuted in the Court Martial.

“That the Court Martial is a special court specifically made for prosecution of persons in the Nigerian Armed forces”.

The plaintiffs contended that EFCC does not have powers to arraign them “with respect to offences allegedly committed in the course of their official duties,” insisting that the charge against them “is unknown to law”.

“That the 2nd defendant (EFCC) is bent on subjecting the plaintiffs to criminal prosecution regardless of the extant statutory provisions that has stipulated the mode of prosecuting military officers,” the plaintiffs added.

The court gave all the parties 21 days to file their pleadings.

The suit was adjourned till December 9 for hearing.

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