A major general, Patrick Adebayo Falola, who was demoted to brigadier-general by a military court martial, has vowed to appeal the verdict.
A special Court Martial found him guilty of unlawfully admitting students for clinical training without due clearance from Army Headquarters.
Falola was director, 68 Army Reference Hospital, Yaba, Lagos. His demotion last Friday is subject to the approval of the Nigeria Army Council.
His lawyer, Enokela Onyilo-Uloko, a retired wing commander, said his client was unjustly convicted.
He said it was an attempt to tarnish Falola’s outstanding records as a distinguished medical officer.
According to Onyilo-Uloko, there was no explicit law forbidding the act for which his client was convicted.
“There is no law or instruction put on the ground by the Armed Forces that a senior officer needs to take permission from a higher authority before allowing such training of Nigerian citizens.
“No such law or instruction was tendered in evidence, but they are saying he should have used his initiative.
“When there is no law criminalising an act, when that act is done, it does not amount to a criminal offence,” Onyilo-Uloko said.
According to him, the Army’s records showed that Falola was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1982, adding that the senior consultant ophthalmologist chaired the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (Lagos State chapter).
He said his client commanded several other military hospitals, such as the Military Hospital, Lagos; 3 Division Hospital, Jos, and the Armed Forces Specialist Hospital in Kano, all of which he upgraded.
“He transformed the Bonny Camp (Lagos) Eye Centre to a world-class status, and introduced laser equipment worth millions at no cost to the Army.
“He is reputed to be an exemplary military administrator, clinician and surgeon. He was commended for his prompt and professional handling of cholera outbreak in Jos, and proactive initiatives to prevent Lassa fever and Ebola outbreaks in the barracks.
“In all these years, there has never been a breach of military discipline reported against him,” the lawyer added.
Falola admitted international students from Espan Formation University, Cotonou, in Benin Republic, between July and September, 2016.
President of the Court Martial, James Gbum, said Falola’s conduct amounted to fraudulent use of Armed Forces’ property.
He acquitted him on the charge of conduct prejudice to the service, but convicted him on fraudulent misapplication of hospital’s property.
“This court is compelled to award a higher punishment under sections 103 and 66 of the Armed Forces Act Cap A 20 Laws of the Federation 2004.
“The court has taken into consideration the service record of the convicted senior officer, the touching plea in mitigation by the defence council as well as the demeanour of the convicted officer.
“But we have also taken into consideration the senior officer’s seniority, rank, experience and the regimental tradition of the Armed Forces.
“This court has discharged and acquitted the convicted officer on the first charge, on the second offence, the sentence is reduction in rank to brigadier general,” he said.