Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos today, convicted and sentenced 10 Pirates brought before the court for hijacking a fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, to 12 years Imprisonment each.
The convicted pirates are: Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.
Justice Faji convicted and sentenced them after upholding the facts presented by the prosecution against all the convict.
Convicting and sentecing the 10 Pirates, who are all Nigerians, the judge held that: “I agree with the prosecution counsel Labaran Morgaji 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”.
Apart from the jail-terms, Justice Faji, further slammed the convicts with N1 million fine each and ordered that the Naira sum, Dollars and various currencies recovered from them by the Nigerian Navy, be forfeited to Federal Government of Nigeria
The judge described the illegal acts of the convicts as one that affects the wellbeing of Nigerians and “our image in the diaspora”.
The convicts were arraigned before the court sometimes in July 2020, by the Nigerian Navy, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
They were arraigned on a three-count charge of Conspiracy and hijacking.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, Mr. Labaran, violates Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019 and were liable to punishment under Section 2 of the same Act.
However, the defendants, denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. But theiy were refused bail by the trial judge, on the ground that the offences against them bordered on National Security.
During their trial, the prosecutor told the court that the convits “while armed with weapons, 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”.