Crime

Ten pirates bag 120 year jail term for hijacking Chinese fishing vessel

Ten pirates  were on Friday sentenced to a total of 120 years in prison by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court  for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May last year.

Pelican Brief

Penpushing reports that, Justice Ayokunle Faji convicted the defendants on all four counts as charged, and in  addition to each of the convicts spending 12 years behind bars, they would also pay a cumulative fine of N10 million.

The convicts were arraigned in July 2020 by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) for allegedly hijacking the Chinese vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.

Penpushing further reports their identities as include Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.

The judge while delivering his judgement said 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

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“I agree with the prosecution counsel, Labaran Morggji, that the prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offence committed by each of the defendants, the defendants conspired to commit the illegal act’, the judge said.

“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 N1million each.The offence committed by the defendants affects 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 forfeited to Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Penpushing also reports that, the defendants were arrested in May this year by the Nigerian Navy, which handed them over to the government, and they earlier pleaded not guilty and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, following which trial commenced.

The government in the course of the trial  told the court that the defendants “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.”

Penpushing reports that, at the trial, the prosecution counsel,  Magaji, said the convicts  violated Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, punishable under Section 2 of the same Act.

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