Navy begins court-martial of 13 officers over civil offences in Rivers
The Nigerian Navy has commenced the court-martial of thirteen officers over offences bordering on economic sabotage.
The naval personnel included a captain, commanders, lieutenant commanders and a sub-lieutenant.
The others were ratings, including a female alleged to have connived with others to commit the offence.
The officers were said to have been arrested in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital.
The President of the general court-martial, Rear Admiral Zakariyyah Muhammad, who spoke at the inauguration of the proceedings at the Western Naval Command Officers Mess, Naval Base, Apapa, Lagos, said the court-martial comprised experienced officers who would administer justice.
He said, “The general court-martial is part of the military justice system employed to try military personnel and it is based on the judicial principle that accused persons are presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.
“In this wise, this general court-martial constituted under the authority of the Chief of the Navy Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, is being inaugurated today, Friday, March 12 for the trial of 13 personnel for alleged service and civil offences.”
Muhammad reiterated that the accused were presumed innocent unless otherwise pronounced by the prosecution counsel.
He added that the accused had defence counsels of their choice with ample opportunities to defend themselves.
Muhammad added that the proceedings which began on Friday would be conducted in fairness, urging the accused persons to be punctual at all meetings for justice to be achieved.
Also speaking, the Judge Advocate, Lieutenant Commander Godspower Oyibo, said the proceedings were convened by the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, in line with the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 to try the 13 officers.