A general court martial sitting at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Makurdi, Benue State, has sentenced Master Warrant Officer Michael Oyebanji to 21 years in jail for criminal breach of trust, theft, criminal conspiracy, and misappropriation of N41m.
Oyebanji, who was the Vice President of the 151 Base Services Group Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Makurdi, was convicted on 46 counts for conniving with three others to steal the money belonging to the cooperative.
Also convicted were Flt. Lt. Sherifi Olawoore, Flying Officer Ademola Adekoya and Warrant Officer Paul Atteh.
Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.
The statement reads, “Four Executive members of the 151 Base Services Group Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Makurdi, who were standing trial before a general court martial sitting at the Nigerian Air Force Base, Makurdi, for criminal misappropriation of over N41,000,000:00, were on 24 September 2020, awarded various sentences.
“The four NAF personnel, who were arraigned before the GCM for misappropriation of cooperative funds, amongst other offences, include Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Sherifi Olawoore, Flying Officer (Fg Offr) Ademola Adekoya, Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Michael Oyebanji and Warrant Officer (WO) Paul Atteh. The personnel were sentenced based on their levels of involvement
“Delivering his judgment, President of the GCM, Air Commodore Nazib Aliyu, pronounced the four accused personnel guilty of various charges. Flt Lt Olawoore was tried for negligently performing his duty as the President of the cooperative, found guilty and awarded six months loss of seniority. In the same vein, Fg Offr Adekoya was tried for negligently performing his duty as Secretary of the cooperative. He was found guilty and awarded one year loss of seniority.
“MWO Michael Oyebanji, who was the Vice President of the cooperative, was tried on a 46-count charge, including; criminal breach of trust, theft, criminal conspiracy, criminal misappropriation, making of false documents and conduct to the prejudice of service discipline, contrary to Sections 114 and 103 (d) of the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and sections 312, 287, 96 and 309 of the Penal Code Cap P3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“He 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.
“In the same vein, WO Paul Atteh, who was tried for negligently performing his duty as the Treasurer of the cooperative as well as for the making of false documents and criminal breach of trust, was found guilty of all three charges. He was awarded reduction in rank from WO to sergeant, in the first instance, and then eventually reduced to the rank of corporal. He is also required to pay a fine of N1,000,000.00. Meanwhile, the GCM has ordered the release of WO Atteh from detention.
“While pleading in mitigation, the defence counsel urged the court to show leniency, describing the accused persons as first-time offenders. The sentences were announced as being subject to confirmation by the appropriate superior authority. However, it is within the rights of the accused personnel to appeal the judgment of the GCM, if they are dissatisfied.”