The Abuja Court of Appeal has dismissed and acquitted Major Akim Adroba Oseni, who was earlier convicted of manslaughter in the death of a junior colleague.

On Monday, San Francisco Chief Mike Ozekhome filed a landmark appeal and debated it.

In a statement provided to The PUNCH by Ozekhome on Tuesday, Oseni was sentenced to ten years in prison at the February 7, 2020 sentencing.

In February 2017, Oseni and three other officers – Major O. Osawu, Captain S Amosu and Lieutenant Dogary – were instructed to train Lance Corporal Benjamin Collins, a soldier trying to escape.

Within minutes of the exercise, Ossene advised the soldier and invited the joint administrator, who also warned the soldier and ordered him to return to the previously identified facility; he immediately agreed.

During a routine inspection as a field officer, Ossene was later told the deceased soldier had been struggling with his legcuffs.

Seeing his condition, he summoned the head of the detention center, and the two transported the soldier to the Defence Headquarters Medical Center, where he (Collins) was confirmed dead shortly after their arrival.

Major Oseni, along with Osawe, Amosu and Dogary, was court-martialed by military authorities, on 9 August, AA Major Oseni and 3 others v. AHQGAR/GI/300/47 of manslaughter between the Nigerian Army, 2018 , at a comprehensive military court at the Commander’s Canteen in Asokoro, Abuja.

The verdict was handed down on 7 February 2020, and Major Adroba was sentenced to ten years in prison. The verdict was confirmed by the Army Commission on November 24, 2020.

Adroba’s co-defendant, Captain Amosu, was acquitted on February 7, 2020.

On November 24, 2020, two other officers who were jointly charged with him were released and acquitted following confirmation by the Army Commission.

Major Osseni was not satisfied with the above judgment/finding and the confirmation of his judgment by the confirming authority and informed Ozerholm of the matter.

According to a notice of appeal dated January 28, 2021 and filed on October 11, 2021, approved by the Court of Appeal on September 28, 2021, Ozekhome filed six grounds of appeal on behalf of Major Ossene.

Ozekhome presided over the appeal by a three-person panel in the Chamber of Appeals Court in Abuja on 19 September 2022. Justice Stephen Jonah Ada (presiding judge), Hon. Justice Muhammad Mustafa and His Excellency. Justice Bature Isa Gafai (as member); judgment reserved therein.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment on Monday, October 31, 2022, acquitted Major Akeem Aderogba Oseni (N/12127) of manslaughter charges under Section 105(a) Section A20 of the Armed Forces Act Penalized, LFN, 2004.

The court agreed with Ozekhome’s argument that the Nigerian Army had not proven guilty of manslaughter against the major.

The court further agreed with Ozekhome that Oseni did not act recklessly in the manner in which the deceased soldier was dealt with as instructed by his superiors, he simply executed.

Judging by improperly assessed evidence obtained by the lower court, Oseni did not intend to cause grievous bodily harm to the deceased, which the trial court wrongly identified.

The court wondered why Major Ossene was convicted alone on the same charges as his co-defendants were both released and acquitted.

The court found the appeal justified, granted it, and acquitted Major Ossene of the charges.

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