Court stops trial of ex-Army chief, others over N13.8bn fraud

Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (retd.)

A Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the planned trial of a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, and two serving senior Army officers over alleged complicity in the diversion of public funds estimated at N13.8bn.

The two other persons are Major General A. O. Adebayo (ex-Chief of Accounts and Budget, Nigerian Army) and Brigadier General R. I. Odi (ex-Director, Finance and Accounts, Nigerian Army.)

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in an ex-parte ruling, ordered parties in a suit by the three to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the plaintiffs’ pending motion for interlocutory injunctions.

The PUNCH reported that while Minimah was COAS between January 2014 and July 2015, Adebayo and Odi are still in service.

They were indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly misappropriating N13,798,619,309 from funds provided by the Federal Government for the purchase of military hardware.

The EFCC, in its court processes obtained by journalists in Abuja on Sunday, said the Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces chaired by Air Vice Marshal John Ode (retd.), referred a case of misappropriation to it for investigation.

The EFCC therefore filed a charge against the three before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

The EFCC also wrote the Army authorities, requesting their release for prosecution.

But on learning about the EFCC’s request for their release, Mimimah, Adebayo and Odi filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja, querying, among others, their planned trial before a civil court.

The Army Generals in the suit filed by their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), argued among others, that under the Armed Forces Act, the EFCC lacked the powers to initiate criminal proceedings against them, let alone prosecute them.

Shortly after the filing of the suit, Justice Ekwo heard an ex-parte motion moved by Magaji and ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice.

The judge adjourned till January 14 and 15, 2022 for hearing.

The judge ordered parties to file and exchange all necessary processes before then.

Source: Punch

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