The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has temporarily halted the planned trial of former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and two other Generals accused of diverting about N13billion meant for procurement of arms.
The court, in an ex-parte order that was issued by Justice Inyang Ekwo, ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to stay action on the matter, pending the determination of a suit the Defendants filed to challenge their trial.
The two other senior military officers the EFCC cited as Defendants in the charge it lodged before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, are a one-time Chief of Accounts and Budget of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. A. O. Adetayo, as well as the former Director, Finance and Accounts of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier Gen. R. I. Odi.
Justice Ekwo ordered all the parties in the suit to maintain status quo ante bellum, pending the hearing and determination of the suit before him.
Whereas Minimah, who served as the COAS from January 2014 to July 2015, had since retired, his co-Defendants, Adebayo and Odi, are still in service.
EFCC had in processes it filed in court, said it had on August 15, 2016, received a report by the Committee on the Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement in the Nigerian Armed Forces (CADEP) from 2007- 2015, chaired by AVM Jon Ode (rtd).
It said the report, alleged that between 2010 and 2015, “several billions of Naira were received by the Nigerian Army from the Federal Government for procurement of Military hard-wares and were discovered to have been misappropriated by Senior Army Officers”.
The anti-graft agency told the court that in the course of investigation conducted, “it was revealed that the sum of Thirteen Billion, Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight Million, Six Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Nine Naira (N13,798,619,309) was misappropriated by the following persons: Lt. Gen. KTJ Minimah (rtd), the former Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. A.O Adetayo, one-time Chief of Accounts and Budget, Nigerian Army and then Colonel R.I Odi, former Director, Finance and Accounts, Nigerian Army”.
According to the EFCC, “The sums were transferred from various accounts belonging to the Nigerian Army and moved to company accounts of entities that had no business relations with the Nigerian Army.
“This caused huge loss to the Nigerian Army and the Federal Government of Nigeria through the unlawful gains made by the aforementioned Officers who converted the monies for their personal use.
“The legal advice on the investigation opined that a prima facie case has been sustained against the Officers”, EFCC added.
It said the outcome of the investigation led to the filing of charges against the three officers fingered in the alleged fraud.