The Court of Appeal in Abuja has set aside the conviction of a former Chief of Transformation and Innovation at the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Major General Ibrahim Sani, by a Special Military Court Martial.
Maj. Gen. Sani was arraigned on July 4, 2016 on a nine-count charge bordering on service property, making of false documents and cheating punishable under sections 56(2), 66(a), 90(a) and 113(3) of the Armed Forces Act (AFA), CAP A20, LFN, 2004.
The charge was in relation to his alleged role in the management of a large parcel of land allocated to the Nigerian Army in Asokoro, Abuja.
However, the appellate court, in a unanimous judgment of a three-man panel, led by Justice Abubakar Datti Yahaya, voided the proceedings leading to the conviction and sentence.
The Court of Appeal was of the view that Major General was denied fair hearing in the trial process.
The judgment, given on April 18, 2019 is on an appeal, marked: CA/A/791/2017 which arose from four interlocutory rulings and the judgment by the Court Martial, which sat at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, Abuja.
The Special Military Court Martial, led by Air Vice Marshal (AVM), Gbum (NAF/1366), gave the rulings and judgment on July 11, 2016; November 1, 2016; April 25, 2017 and July 20, 2017.
The Court of Appeal, while allowing the appeal by Maj. Gen. Sani, said: “The proceedings and judgment of the special court martial in respect of charge No: NA/COAS/GI/39/16 filed before the lower Special Court Martial was set aside.
“An order is made for the retrial of the charges against the appellant by another Special Court Martial.”
Mahmud Magaji (SAN), who led the appellant’s legal team, said: “By this decision, setting aside the judgment of the Special Court Martial, the proceedings, conviction and sentence of the court never existed in the eyes of the law.
“They are null and void. Therefore, the Nigerian Army is obligated to obey the judgment by restoring the appellant to his rank as a Major General with all his benefits and entitlements in the Nigerian Army.”