Thirteen persons consisting of officers of the Nigerian Navy on Friday appeared before a court-martial panel 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.
That the officers were arrested in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, as the navy vowed to flush economic saboteurs out of the service.
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.
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