A General Court Martial (GCM), sitting at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base, Makurdi, has convicted and sentenced Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Michael Oyebanji to 21 years in prison.
Oyebanji was convicted for criminal breach of trust, theft, criminal conspiracy, and misappropriation of N41 million.
He was among four executive members of the 151 Base Services Group (151 BSG) Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Makurdi, who were standing trial for the offence.
He was the Vice President of the Society in Makurdi and was convicted on 46 counts for conniving with three others to steal the money belonging to the cooperative.
President of the GCM, Air Commodore Nazib Aliyu, also reduced his rank to corporal and was ordered to refund the money.
The three others convicted were Flt. Lt. Sherifi Olawoore, Flying Officer Ademola Adekoya, and Warrant Officer Paul Atteh.
According to a statement issued on Saturday by Director of Public Relations and Information, Ibikunle Daramola, the personnel were sentenced based on their levels of involvement.
Daramola said the judgement was handed down on September 24th.
He said Aliyu tried Flt Lt Olawoore for negligence in the performance of his duty as the President of the cooperative and was found guilty and awarded 6 months loss of seniority.
In the same vein, Adekoya was tried for negligence in performing his duty as secretary of the cooperative and equally found guilty and awarded one year loss of seniority.
For WO Paul Atteh, he was also tried for negligence in performance of his duty as the treasurer of the cooperative as well as for the making false documents and criminal breach of trust, was found guilty of all 3 charges.
His rank was reduced from WO to Sergeant in the first instance, and eventually reduced to the rank of Corporal. He was also required to pay a fine of N1,000,000.00.
The GCM however, ordered his release from detention.
Daramola said: “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.
“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.”