The Nigerian Navy on Friday began the court martial of 13 officers for alleged economic sabotage against the country.
The officers were alleged to have colluded with vandals and other oil thieves working against the interest of Nigeria.
Among those brought before the court martial presided over by Rear Admiral Zakariayya Muhammad were a Navy Captain, a Commander, Lieutenant Commander, Sub-Lieutenants and three ratings.
According to the court’s president, the accused persons were facing charges on alleged civil and service offences.
He said the court martial was part of military criminal justice system emplaced to try personnel, adding that the accused persons were presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Muhammad said the court martial was convened at the instance of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, assuring the suspects that the proceedings would be guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN 2004, BR 11 Manual of Naval Law, Evidence Act 1990, the Criminal Code Act 1990, Holy Qur’an, Holy Bible and any other law material or document relevant to the trial.
Reading out their rights, the President disclosed that the accused persons were entited to a legal adviser of their choice, but would be provided with a serving officer if the accused is unable to get a lawyer.
“The court martial would uphold the principles of justice and fairness throughout its duration” he said.
In addition, he said the court is to submit four bound copies of the record of proceedings to the convening authority not later than April 21.
In his remarks, the CNS who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said the President of the court has the power to summon any witness to appear before the court during the trial period.
Judge Advocate of the court, Lieutenant Commander Godspower Oyibo, read the charges against the 13 persons.