3rd June, 2010
Two army officers accused of stealing millions of naira from the account of Army Post Service Loans and Savings Schemes have pleaded not guilty to the 11-count charge of stealing and corruption against them.
In the charge read before to the 7-man panel of judges, the army officers, Brig-Gen. Felix Mohammed and Col. Greg Udegbe, former Managing Director and Project Manager of Army Post Service Housing Scheme, respectively, were alleged to have conspired to steal a total of N258 million naira which were monies meant for the post housing scheme.
Prosecuting Counsel, Brig-Gen. Andrew Agha-Okoro while reading the 11 count charges at the General Court-martial sitting in Kaduna accused them of stealing, negligence, conspiracy and failure to exercise due diligence by paying 124 million naira in cash to one Silas for supply of bitumen, which was not supplied.
But defence counsel to one of the accused, Gen. Mohammed, Bar. Adogoji Abu filed a preliminary objection .
He argued that the military court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.
Abu submitted that his client, Gen. Mohammed, voluntarily retired from the army on 30 September, 2009, so the army cannot try him for an offence allegedly committed seven months after retirement.
He cited sections 1301 and 1692, Armed Forces Act to support his argument.
According to him, Mohammed has ceased to be subject of the Nigerian Army after he retired.
He therefore urged the court to strike out the case on grounds that it is not within its powers to hear the case.
Col. Letan Wiwa, counsel to the second accused person, Col. Udegbe, pleaded for time to look at the charges again before deciding whether to admit them or not.
After listening to all the counsels, president of the General Court-martial adjourned till Saturday,Â 5 June, 2010, for ruling on the preliminary objection raised by Mohammedâ€™s counsel and Col. Udegbeâ€™s response the charge.
â€”By Femi Adi/Kaduna