In a major victory for Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law, a Federal High Court has sentenced ten pirates involved in the 2020 hijack of a merchant vessel FV HAILUFENG II to 12 years imprisonment each with a N250,000.00 fine on each count.
Delivering judgement on Friday, Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi submitted that piracy has been an embarrassment to the nation and has impacted the economy negatively.
Hence, Justice Faji stated that punishment for this act must be proportionate to the offence committed by the convicts to serve as deterrence to others.
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.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy (NN) rescued 18 crewmembers onboard a Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II from a pirates’ attack on May 15, 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.
Commodore Suleman Dahun, who spoke on behalf of the Chief Naval Staff, said the verdict was major victory for Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law.
He also said Nigerian institutions, including the Nigerian Navy, prosecuting agencies and security agencies are ready to counter criminal activities in Maritime environment