Lt-Col. R. A. Ahangba of the Nigerian Army was yesterday sentenced by a General Court Martial (GCM), presided over by Gen. Edward Nze and Judge Advocate, Capt Chukwudi Okonkwo, to seven years in prison for defrauding the Bayelsa State Government of N150 million, an offence he reportedly committed under the guise of helping a former governor, Timipre Sylva, to secure re-election during the 2011 gubernatorial elections.
Ahangba with service number N9827 faced four counts of obtaining fraudulently; committing a conduct that was prejudicial to service discipline; disobedience to standing order and a conduct that was prejudicial to duty.
He was was arrested in 2012, following a petition from late Gen. Andrew Azazi, former National Security Adviser, NSA, to the army headquarters. Azazi had complained that the convict impersonated him and collected money from the Bayelsa State Government.
The convict it was learnt, had contacted some officials of the State falsely on behalf of Azazi and had asked for N150million to execute community projects in some of the communities in Ekeremo Local Government and in turn would secure some electoral votes for their principal officer.
According to the evidence of bank documents of the convict, which was tendered as exhibit in the court, the state government had actually transferred the said amount into his account, which he diverted into obtaining shares from First Bank and UBA registrars.
He was said to have given the sums of N5million and N8million respectively, to one Lieutenant Agaku and another unidentified lady in the bank.
Investigations revealed that although the money was intended to facilitate some community projects, the convict had no intention of executing any as he speedily moved the money to his private account.
Delivering judgment, Nze said: “The court has no doubt in mind that the accused person suggested the projects to officials of the Bayelsa State Government from the evidence before it. Again, the evidence before this court showed that he collected the said money from the state government as shown by bank documents tendered as exhibit P7 to P10 and the money was never used by the NSA. Thus he never assisted the Bayelsa State Government in winning or canvassing for votes in his state as alleged by the convict.”
After sentencing him to seven years, Nze noted that the court’s decision was subject to superior authority from the army headquarters. “The officer by the sentence, is automatically dismissed from the army unless the judgment was overturned. As a rule, ex-convicts do not serve in the armed forces and so if the superior authorities enforce the decision of the court, it automatically means that the officer has been dismissed”, Nze added.
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