A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Friday, sentenced 10 pirates to 12 years’ imprisonment each for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel.
The vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, is said to belong to Haina Fishing Company.
The convicts are: Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
They are Nigerian residents and were arraigned on July 13, 2020, over a charge marked FHC/L/170c/2020.
The convicts, who pleaded not guilty on arraignment, were prosecuted by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The court reserved judgment for Friday after parties concluded evidence and adopted written addresses.
Delivering judgement, Justice Ayokunle Faji found them guilty of all the four counts of the charge, and convicted them accordingly.
He sentenced each of them to a concurrent term of 12 years’ imprisonment, and ordered each to pay a fine of one million Naira.
Faji held that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convicts did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
“I agree with the prosecution counsel Labaran Mogaji that the prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offences committed by each of the defendants.
“The defendants conspired to commit the illegal act. All the defendants acted in hijacking the ship to achieve their common goal.
“I consequently 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 are to pay a fine of one million Naira each,” the judge held.
Faji said that the offences committed by the convicts affected the well-being of Nigerians and the country’s image.
“The naira sum, dollars and various currencies recovered from the defendants by the Nigerian Navy are hereby forfeited to Federal Government of Nigeria.” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that prosecution had said that the convicts committed the offences in May 2020, on the international waters in Abidjan.
Prosecution added that they committed violence against the crew on board the vessel FV Hai Lu Feng II, by putting them in fear to take control of the vessel.
Prosecution had told the court that the defendants were armed with dangerous weapons.
It noted that the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 3, 10 and 12 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act of 2019