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Appeal court reverses court marshal’s conviction of army general

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has set aside the conviction of former Chief of Transformation and Innovation, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj- Gen. Ibrahim Sani, by a special military court martial.

In a unanimous judgement, the three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya voided the proceedings leading to the conviction and sentence.

The court was of the view that Sani was denied fair hearing in the trial process.

The judgment delivered on April 18, on an appeal No. CA/A/791/2017 followed four interlocutory rulings and the judgement by the court martial, which sat at the Army Headquarters Garrison, Mogadishu Cantonment, Asokoro, Abuja.

The court martial led by Air Vice Marshal (AVM) James Gbum gave the judgements on July 11, 2016; November 1, 2016; April 25, 2017 and July 20, 2017.

While allowing the appeal by Sani, the court said: “The proceedings and judgement 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, stated that by the decision setting aside the judgement 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 judgement by restoring the appellant to his rank as a Major General with all his benefits and entitlements in the Nigerian army.”

Sani was arraigned on July 4, 2016, on a nine-count charge of 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. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

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