By Davidson Iriekpen.THISDAY.21,March 2013
The Court of Appeal in Lagos has ordered the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) to reinstate Lt.Col. K. S. Iberi (rtd) into the Nigeria Army with immediate effect.
In a unanimous judgment, the court set aside the judgment of the court martial delivered on May 26, 1998 on the grounds that it was perverse. It also quashed the conviction and the two-year jail term slammed on Iberi by the court martial presided over by Col. Z. M. Yaduma.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Rita Pemu, she said from the totality of the evidence before it, there was no reason why the panel of the court martial would find Iberi guilty of the charges against him.
Justice Pemu submitted that there was nothing from the evidence before the court, whether oral or documentary, to suggest that the appellant was involved in a trick or device to defraud.
He further stated that there was no nexus to show that the appellant conspired with anybody to commit any crime or cheated John Nwodo of the sum N377,000 and one 1300 Mitsubishi Bus with Registration No. BQ 628 AAA on the pretext of awarding a contract valued at N10 million from the Army Headquarters, Lagos, knowing that it was false.
On his part, Justice Joseph Ikyegh, while concurring to the setting aside of the judgment and acquitting the appellant, said the participation of the Major P. J. O. Bojie and Major R. J. Diri as substantive members of the court martial when they knew that they being junior in rank to Iberi rendered the trial a nullity.
Justice Ikyegh, who cited authorities to support his decision, said where a trial is nullity, a retrial is normally ordered.
Iberi was an army officer of the Lt. Colonel until 1998. That year, he was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment without an option of fine.
He served his term of imprisonment and upon the completion of same, he filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence.