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N41m theft:  Family of detained Air Force officer seeks confirmation of court martial by CAS

…seeks President Buhari,  NLC’s  intervention

…the process has commenced, undergoing review – NAF 

The family and legal counsel to Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Michael Oyebanji, has called on the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to confirm the sentence passed against Oyebanji by a Court Marshal, which sat in Markudi, Benue State.

 

This is to enable Oyebanji, detained over a year ago for an alleged N41 million theft, seek redress and appeal the sentence in a higher court.

 

Addressing newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, lawyer to the accused, Barrister Sunday Adukwu, and a clergyman, Mr. Adeyemi Adediran, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and human rights groups to intervene and institute an independent investigation into the case and plight of the officer.

 

Oyebanji and three other executive members of the 151 Base Services Group (151 BSG) Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Makurdi, stood trial before a General Court Martial (GCM), sitting at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base, Makurdi for criminal misappropriation of over N41 million and were awarded various sentences since September 24, 2020.

 

Oyebanji, who was Vice President of the cooperative, was found guilty on all 46 counts and subsequently sentenced to serve 21 years imprisonment, cumulatively, as well as reduction in rank to Corporal and ordered to refund all monies misappropriated.

 

But the lawyer, who maintained it was trump up charges by a kangaroo court, alleged the judgement was pre-determined as the court martial refused to consider all evidences before it as  the whole process was to get at Oyebanji for allegedly daring to refuse a senior officer who was not a member of the cooperative access to loans.

 

While noting the accused has been in detention for over 580 days (over a year) and the Chief of Air Staff yet to validate and confirm the court martial within three months of passing the judgement as was the custom, Barrister Adukwu regretted that this was delaying the accused from proceeding to appeal the judgement since September 24.

 

Barrister Adukwu,  a former military officer, said he was certain the judgement against Oyebanji’s would not stand the test of time in a normal and independent court.

 

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