Nigerian Army Court-martials Major General Umar Mohammed.

A special court-martial set up by the Nigerian Army has found the former Group Managing Director and Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Army Properties Limited, Major General Umar Muazu Mohammed guilty of 14 of 18 count charges which are all contrary to service laws.

The charges include stealing, forgery, conspiracy, theft, and unauthorized diversion of army property among others, and they are all subject to service discipline.

Among the charges was the collection of a sum of $1.045,400 paid by shipping companies for the use of Nigerian Army Jetty located at number 6 Marina, Victoria Island, Lagos

Major General U. M Mohammed was also found guilty of a theft of $430.800 being monies paid into Nigerian Army Domiciliary account at Unity Bank, Abuja for use of Nigerian Army Jetty, Marina, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Furthermore, Major Gen Mohammed was found guilty of withdrawing and confiscating the sum of ₦74million out of ₦75million paid for a property belonging to the Nigerian Army at Ikoyi, Lagos.

The general was however found not guilty on allegations that he sold Army property worth ₦200million in Lagos as well as the fact that he stole the sum of another ₦750million out of the sum of ₦2.5billion secured from banks as well as contribution from subscribers for an Army housing estate in Asokoro, Abuja.

He was also not found guilty of charges of forging a Deed of Agreement document pursuant to confiscating another Army property in Lagos.

The Special Court Martial with Major General Kames Myam as President, has seven (7) other Major Generals as members and a Brigadier General as Judge Advocate and it is expected to read out its sentences for the accused by Tuesday next week. During the court martial, Major General U. M Mohammed was brought into the court in a wheelchair but President of the court, Major Gen Myam said all necessary medical checks were carried out on the accused and all proved that he was fit to stand trial. Lead counsel for the prosecution was Col BA Oguntayo (Rtd) while Lead counsel for the Defense was Olalekan Ojo, SAN.

The Nigerian Army also made a press release concerning the matter:

For the avoidance of doubts, without being sub-judicial, the former GMD NAPL is facing trial in relation to alleged offences of theft of various sums of money belonging to NAPL and forgery. These are all acts declared as offences punishable under the provisions of various extant penal Laws in Nigeria.

To set the records straight, upon investigation and indictment of the accused senior officer by military police investigations, the Army Headquarters convened a Special Court Martial to try the Senior Officer as a procedure to legally recover the sums of money he allegedly fraudulently acquired from the coffers of NAPL during his tenure as GMD. The details of the outcome of the Court Martial will be provided at the end of the Court Martial proceedings.

However, it is instructive to point out, that Court Martial trials are lawfully provided in the Armed Forces Act (AFA) as one of the disciplinary tools in the Armed Forces. The Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have in multiple instances validated the procedures, findings, and sentences of Court-martial. Court Martials like all other criminal trials are held in the open. The trial of Major General UM Mohammed is taking place at the Army Headquarters Command Officers’ Mess, Asokoro Abuja and not shrouded in secrecy as being wrongly insinuated.The trial has been open and the Defence has presented adequate representation in court. The accused senior officer’s family members, friends, and associates attend and observe the Court proceedings till date, without hindrance.

It is factual that Maj Gen UM Mohammed ought to have proceeded on retirement, however, provisions of the Armed Forces Act (specifically Section 169) permits the retention in service of such a personnel, who has pending disciplinary case(s) to allow extant legal processes.

Furthermore, it is also a fact that members of the Special Court Martial trying Maj Gen Mohammed are all junior to him. This is permissible in special circumstances, as the Armed Forces Act provides for this contingency in Section 133(7), where the Convening Officer is required to obtain the consent of an appropriate superior to appoint any such officers as members of the court. The requisite consent was obtained before convening the Special Court Martial trying the accused senior officer.

It is worthy of note that General Mohammed is being defended by a legal team comprising 2 Senior Advocates and 6 lawyers, including a retired military officer. He is currently being detained at a military location purpose-built for such detention, where the rights and well-being of such detainees are given prime consideration. Though at the onset of the trial, Maj Gen Mohammed requested to be granted bail inter-alia on health grounds, the Court in considering the bail application, took cognizance of the humongous amount of monies allegedly stolen in the indictment, which could encourage the accused senior officer to abscond. The Court therefore, declined the application for bail. The Court however, granted visitation rights to some family members, including his two wives, son, daughter, and brother as requested by the accused officer. These persons have been visiting him regularly at the detention facility.

On the issue of the accused senior officer’s health; as with all other Court Martial trials, Maj Gen Mohammed’s state of health is examined daily to determine his fitness to stand trial before the commencement of proceedings for the day. The holding facility where he is detained is serviced by the Army Command and NAOWA Hospital and these medical facilities are open to him whenever required.

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