Photo: Convicted Pirates
A Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday sentenced 10 pirates to 12 years imprisonment each for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May, 2020.
Delivering judgement, Justice Ayokunle Faji held that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
He convicted each of them on all of the 4 counts preferred against them and also ordered of them to pay a damage of N1million each.
“I agree with the prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji, that the prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offence committed by each of defendants; the defendants conspired to commit the illegal act. All the defendants acted in hijacking the ship to achieve their common goal.
“Consequently I find each of the defendants guilty as charged in all the counts. Each defendant is hereby sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. In addition, the defendants should pay a fine of N1 million each.
“The offenses committed by the defendants affect the wellbeing of Nigerians and our image in the diaspora. The naira sum, dollars and various currencies recovered from the defendants by the Nigerian Navy are hereby ordered to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” the judge ordered.
The convicts, who are all based in Nigeria, are Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
They were arraigned on July 13, 2020, on a four-count charge bordering on hijacking of the vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.
The convicts had pleaded “not guilty” upon their arraignment and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, which had arrested and handed them over to the government. following which their trial was fixed.
The charges against them reads in part: “While armed with weapons, you committed an illegal act of violence against the crew on board FV Hai Lu Feng II belonging to Haina Fishing Company by putting them in fear in order to take control of the vessel.
“This act is in violation of Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, punishable under Section 2 of the same Act,” the prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji had argued in his submission before the court.