The Nigerian Army will today (Monday) arraign Capt. Ifeanyi Onu before a general court martial in Sokoto for alleged desertion.
This followed his failure to report at the Forward Operating Base, Gwashi, Zamfara State, where he was deployed on June 20, 2020, to lead troops against insurgents and bandits.
Onu, who was with the 223 Battalion, Zuru, Kebbi State, was said to have refused to take over the command of troops of Operation Hadarin Daji from Capt. S. Maidawa, on the pretext that there was only one General Purpose Machine gun at the location.
The captain also reportedly claimed that he did not report for duty in Gwashi because he did not get a signal directing him to move to the FOB, noting that he merely received a verbal directive from his superior officer to proceed to the new posting.
According to the charge sheet NA Form B 252 obtained by The PUNCH on Sunday, the officer was being charged with failure to perform military duties punishable under section 62 (a) of the Armed Forces Act, CAP A20, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The accused faces two-year jail term as well as dismissal from the army.
The charge sheet read in part, “The accused, Capt. I. Onu with army no. N/15356, and unit, 223BN, being a person subject to military law is charged with failure to perform military duties punishable under section 62 (a) of the AFA CAP A20, LFN 2004.
“In that, you at FOB, Bukkuyum on or about 202000A Jun 20 was instructed by Maj. S. Raymond (N/12825) over the phone to move to FOB, Gwashi, only for you to tell him that you were not going to take over the location with only one GPMG. Offence reported by Capt. S. Maidawa (N/12825) 1 Div. Garrison; charge by Maj. S. Raymond.”
An updated charge sheet dated August 15 and signed by the acting General Officer Commanding, 8 Division, Brig. Gen. A. Bande, charged Onu with desertion contrary to section 60(4)(a) of the Armed Forces Act, CAP A20 LFN, 2004, punishable under section 60(1) of the same law.
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But the accused in his defence said he embarked on the trip to FOB, Gwashi, as directed but reported to sector 6, Anka and when he did not see the commander, went back to his base.
Onu will be defended by his lawyers, ex-Corporal Prince Chukwu; and former Warrant Officer, Idris Tanimu, with Major Abba Goni as the prosecutor.
The GMC will also conduct the trial of Lance Corporal Idakpini Martins, who criticised the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, in a viral video last month.