There are strong indications that the authorities of the Nigerian Army are seeking the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari so as to include all suspected serving officers in the ongoing investigation into the $2.1bn arms procurement scandal in the military trial.
A high ranking government official squealed to The Punch on Sunday that the military authorities had sought the President’s nod for the officers to be prosecuted under the Armed Forces Act.
According to the source, the position of the military was that the Armed Forces Act had made provision for such infractions on the part of military men and how to handle their cases.
He maintained that the military handling the trial of indicted officers using its rule would be far better than when they are prosecuted by the regular courts.
The source said the argument for military trial for the officers was further strengthened by the fact that the money, which is the subject of the investigation, was meant for the procurement of arms for the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The source said, “The military authorities have suggested to the Federal Government that all serving officers, found culpable in the ongoing investigation into the arms procurement scandal, be tried under the Armed Forces Act rather than being tried in regular courts.
“You may recall that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has returned Col. Ojogbane Adegbe, the former Aide-de-Camp to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, to the military authorities after he was interrogated.
“A former Military Assistant in the Office of the National Security Adviser, Col. Nicholas Ashinze, had also been confined to the Officers’ Mess by the military authorities after his initial detention by the anti-graft agency.
“The pending request to try and them and 11 other serving military chiefs using the Armed Forces Act may be responsible for this.”
However, as at the time of filing the report, the source, said the military authorities had yet to receive the permission to go ahead.
It will be recalled, the Presidency had handed over a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), and 17 others, including 11 serving senior military officers and 22 companies, to the EFCC for investigation into the alleged $2.1bn arms deals.
Others under investigation, aside Badeh are ex-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal M. D. Umar; a former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); Col. N. Ashinze; a former Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosu; the most senior Air Force officer, AVM A. M. Mamu (the Chief of Administration); and AVM O. T. Oguntoyinbo (former Director of Production, Defence Headquarters).
Others are AVM R. A. Ojuawo (Air Officer, Tactical Air Command, Makurdi); AVM J. B. Adigun (former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in NAF); and AVM J. A. Kayode-Beckley (Director, Armament Research in Air Force Research and Development Centre); AVM T. Omenyi (MD, NAF Holdings); four top officers at the Defence Headquarters, Air Cdre A. O. Ogunjobi, Air Cdre G. M. D Gwani, Air Cdre S. O. Makinde, and Air Cdre A.Y. Lassa.