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Nigerian Navy hands over 10 convicted pirates to prison authorities

The Nigerian Navy has handed over the 10 pirates convicted by Federal High Court Ikoyi for the hijack of FV HAILUFENG II to the Nigeria Correctional Service, Kirikiri, Lagos.

According to Naval Spokesperson, Commodore Suleiman Dahun, the hands over ceremony took place on Tuesday 27 July 2021 at about 12:05 noon.

The Nigerian Federal High Court had sentenced the 10 pirates involved in the 2020 hijack of a merchant vessel FV HAILUFENG II to 12 years imprisonment each with a fine of N1,000,000.00.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Faji said the Federal Government proved beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV HAILUFENG II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.

The judge held: “I agree with the prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji 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.

“All the defendants acted in hijacking the ship to achieve their common goal. Consequently I find each of the defendants guilty as charged on 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 the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

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.

On 15 May 2020, the Nigerian Navy rescued 18 crew members on board a Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II after a pirate attack.

Subsequently, 10 suspects were charged before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi. The suspects were charged to 4 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, who are now convicts include 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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