By Oladapo Udom
The Nigerian Navy, on Friday in Lagos, court-martialled 13 of its personnel arrested for their alleged involvement in both civil and military offences.
The president of the Western Naval Command Court, Rear Admiral Zakariayya Muhammad, said the court-martial was convened at the instance of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo.
Muhammad said the 13 personnel would be assumed innocent, until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
“The general court martial is part of military criminal justice system emplaced to try military personnel with seasoned officers as trial judges of many years of experience.
“The court will 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.
“The Evidence Act 1990, the Criminal Code Act 1990, Holy Qur’an, Holy Bible and any other law material or document relevant to the trial,” he said.
The president said the accused were entited to legal advise, but would be provided with a serving officer if the accused was unable to get a lawyer.
“The court martial will uphold all the principles of justice and fairness throughout its duration,” Mohammad said.
In addition, the Chief of the Naval Staff, represented by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said the president of the court had the power to summon any witness to appear before the court during the trial period.
Daji told the adjudicating officers to abide by the tenets of the court and to see the 13 personnel on trial as innocent, until they were adjudged guilty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the officers being tried are a Navy Captain, three personnel and nine others comprising Commander, Lieutenant-Commander and Sub-Lieutenants.