Senate quizzes military chiefs secretly on seized $9.3mn

Senate quizzes military chiefs secretly on seized $9.3mn

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 10:00 pm

The Senate on Tuesday began investigation into circumstances surrounding the seizure of Nigeria’s 9.3 million dollars in South Africa.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Sen. George Sekibo, said this in Abuja after a closed-door meeting with the service chiefs.

The chiefs were led to the high profile meeting, which lasted for over three hours, by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh.

National Assembly

National Assembly

Sekibo, who said the committee would get details of the situation, promised to brief the media at the end of its investigation.

“We are still investigating. We have started the investigation; when we get through the investigation, we will brief you.

“There were several questions here and there and we are digging to find out details and facts about what happened. The committee is satisfied that we are on top of the matter,” he said.

The South African Revenue Service on Sept. 5, seized the amount from two Nigerians and an Israeli at Lanseria Airport, North-West of Johannesburg. They flew into the country from Abuja in a Bombardier jet owned by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The money, which is being held at the Central Bank in South Africa, is being investigated by the South African Police.

On the 12 soldiers sentenced to death by a military panel for mutiny, Sekibo said that the senate was not under pressure to intervene to save the lives of the soldiers.

“No we are not (under pressure) because the Armed Forces is established by an Act of the National Assembly.

“ The Act spelt out categorically the conduct of soldiers and the way they are to behave wherever they are.

“If you join the military that Act is to guide you and your conduct.

“If you go contrary to any of the prescribed sections of the Act the punishment prescribed for the Act you violated will come on you.

“So the military did not just wake up one day and say that they are going to kill Mr A or Mr B.

“They (military) went through the necessary processes and they found them guilty,“ he said.

The committee chairman, however said that those found guilty could go on appeal and the rulings from the appeal would be binding on them.

“But I think that those found guilty also have a way out. They can go on appeal and if the appeal finds them not guilty that will be it.

“But for what the military has done, they have done the best thing because you must instil discipline in the Armed Forces.

“If you don’t do so one day all of us here will be sacked and you will not hear of this place again,“ he said.

Sekibo called on Nigerians to encourage the military to ensure that it discharged its duties effectively.

NAN recalls that 12 Nigerian soldiers were on Sept 16, sentenced to death for mutiny after firing shots at their commanding officer in Maiduguri on May 14.

A nine-member military tribunal, sitting in Abuja, convicted the soldiers following shots fired at the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Army’s 7th Division, Maj.-Gen. Abubakar Mohammed.

Court president Brig.-Gen. Chukwuemeka Okonkwo said the sentences were subject to confirmation by Nigeria’s military authorities but added there was no doubt about the gravity of the offence

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