Court sentences 10 to 12 years imprisonment each for hijack of merchant vessel



By Chimezie Godfrey

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos State has sentenced ten pirates involved in the 2020 hijack of a merchant vessel FV HAILUFENG II to 12 years imprisonment each.

This was made known in a statement signed by Commodore Suleman Dahun for the Chief of Naval Staff on Friday.

Dahun stated,”In a major victory for Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law, a Nigerian Federal High Court has sentenced 10 pirates involved in the 2020 hijack of a merchant vessel FV HAILUFENG II to 12 years imprisonment each with a #250,000.00 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 and has impacted the economy negatively. Hence, Justice Faji stated that for this act must 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 agencies are ready to counter criminal activities.

“The defence counsel has promised to appeal the judgment.”

It could 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.

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