A Nigerian Federal High Court has sentenced 10 Pirates to 12 years imprisonment for hijacking a merchant vessel, FV HAILUFENG II last year.
Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, who included a N250,000 fine on each count, in his judgement, submitted that piracy had been an embarrassment to the nation and had negatively impacted the economy, hence, punishment for this act must be proportionate to the offence committed by the convicts to serve as deterrent to others.
It could be recalled that the Nigerian Navy, NN, rescued 18 crew members on board a Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II from pirates’ attack on 15 May 2020. Subsequently, 10 suspects were charged before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi.
The suspects were charged to 3 counts on piracy with the offence contravening the provisions of Section 3, 10 and 12 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019. The defendants included Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.
In his submission, the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Labaran Magaji averred that the verdict would send a strong warning to other criminal elements that Nigeria has zero tolerance for maritime criminals and that Nigerian institutions, both Nigerian Navy, prosecuting agencies and security agencies, are ready to counter criminal activities. The defence counsel has promised to appeal the judgment.