The ranks of the Nigerian Army Council have been divided over the disciplinary matter concerning the former aide-de-camp (ADC) to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Ojogbane Adegbe.
It was reliably gathered that since his release from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detention about a fortnight ago, he had appeared before the council to give an account of his alleged involvement in the arms deal scandal for which he was arrested by the EFCC last month, but the council was having a hard time reaching a common ground over the case.
The Army Council, according to the Nigerian Army Act, shall be responsible, under the general authority of the Chief of Defence Staff, for the command, discipline and administration of and for all other matters relating to the Army.
The Army Council according to the Act shall consist of the Minister of Defence who shall be the chairman; the Chief of Defence Staff who shall be the vice-chairman; and the Chief of Army Staff, while the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence shall be the secretary to the council.
The Nigeria Army yesterday denied the alleged division in taking any decision concerning Col Adegbe in his ongoing trial.
Spokesman of the Army, Colonel Sani K. Usman, said yesterday when contacted, that he was shocked to hear about the existence of such council.
“I really don’t know where these kinds of rumours emanate,” Colonel Usman, the Acting Director Army Public Relations, said.
“Honestly I am not aware of any council or body constituted to sit on this issue. All I know is that the Army is a discipline body and it is guided by both military and civil laws under which any erring officer or soldiers can be subjected whenever they are found wanting”.
“All we know is that the army under the current command of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai is highly committed to rules of law, that is why any officer found wanting in the discharge of his job is not shielded from the arms of law – be it military or civil,” he stated when pressed further.
It was however learnt that the members of the council were torn between meting out sanctions on Col Adegbe, who faces likely dismissal from the army if found guilty of the allegations against him, for his alleged conduct, which is not in tandem with military discipline or pardoning him since he is trained to carry out directives as assigned by his superior and he had maintained that all he did in his capacity as ADC was as directed by his principal.
“The former ADC faces likely dismissal but the army council is in a dilemma over his case. Members of the council are divided on this matter.
“While some are of the view that he should be dismissed, others say he did no wrong. The argument of those who are against his dismissal is that he was only obeying directives from his Commander in Chief,” the source said.
The former ADC, it was also gathered, has throughout his ordeal, maintained his stance that he would rather be dismissed than give information that is being sought by the EFCC.
Another senior officer of the Army who spoke but pleaded anonymity since it was not his call to speak to the media, cautioned against treating the former ADC as though he was some kind of special officer or citizen, insisting that the council could not be divided over an issue such as his.
“This officer in question is just a young Colonel in the Army; so what is so special about him that the Army has to constitute a panel or council to decide his fate, to the extent that the army will be said to have been divided over his matter?
“If Generals and even a former Defence Chief in this country are being tried at the EFCC, what is the big deal about a Colonel? Look, the media must desist from this attitude of arrogating some unnecessary recognition to persons or officers that don’t deserve such. Colonel Adegbe was the ADC to a former president; and so what? Does that make him an officer above the law? No! As far as we in the army are concerned, he is not a big deal at all; no one is even talking about him,” he said.
Col. Adegbe was in February detained by the EFCC when he was invited for questioning on the alleged disbursement of over N10 billion to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination convention delegates.
He was detained by the EFCC, but after pressure by Adegbe’s lawyer, Ogwu Onoja (SAN), to release him in respect of his human right, it was rumoured that the EFCC handed him over to the army where he was alleged to have been kept in a military detention facility.
An Abuja Federal High Court where Justice Yusuf Haliru presided had on March 1, 2016, ordered the EFCC and the Nigerian Army to immediately release him.
The judge said the EFCC had “no right whatsoever”, to detain Adegbe or any other person as it was unconstitutional for the agency to keep Adegbe in detention for more than 24 hours.
It had earlier been reported that the EFCC as part of its investigation was exploring the possibility of using the former ADC as a prosecution witness against some powerful suspects.
A source conversant with the matter had said that the EFCC proposed to cut a deal with Adegbe to use him as prosecution witness so that he might be saved from dismissal from the army but that Adegbe had insisted that he didn’t know anything about the money for arms procurement and that he was only an aide and carried out duties as assigned by his principal.
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