The Court of Appeal Abuja has set aside the decision of a Special Military Court Martial to convict former Chief of Transformation and Innovation at the Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj.- Gen. Ibrahim Sani.
Justice Abubakar Yahaya led two other justices of the appellate court to void the proceedings leading to the conviction and sentencing.
The judgment given on April 18 on appeal marked CA/A/791/2017 was contained in an enrolled order made available to newsmen by Mr Mahmud Magaji (SAN), Counsel for the appellant (Sani) on Thursday in Abuja.
The appellate court was of the view that the appellant was denied fair hearing in the trial.
“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 is hereby set aside.
“An order is made for the retrial of the charges against the appellant by another Special Court Martial’’, Yahaya held.
Speaking with newsmen, Magaji 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.”
Sani was arraigned on July 4, 2016 on a nine-count charge bordering on service property, making of false documents and cheating.
The alleged offence were 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 a full out from an alleged criminal role he played in the management of a large parcel of land allocated to the Nigerian Army in Asokoro area of the FCT.
He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and in the course of the arraignment, count 9 was struck out for being duplication of count 3.
At the close of the prosecution’s case, the appellant made a no-case submission in respect of all the remaining 8 counts.
The Court Martial, in a ruling on the no-case submission, struck out count 5 on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case linking the appellant with the alleged unlawful act.
The appellant also challenged the jurisdiction of the Court Martial on alleged contravention of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Sani further challenged the competence of the president of the special court and a member and other issues bordering on his right to fair hearing, which were eventually dismissed.