A Federal High Court has sentenced eleven pirates involved in the 2020 hijacking of the cargo vessel FV HAILUFENG II to 12 years in prison and a N250,000.00 fine on each count, marking a landmark success for Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law.
Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, who delivered the judgment today, stated that piracy has been a national shame and has had a negative influence on the economy. As a result, Justice Faji stated that the sentence must be appropriate to the crime committed by the offenders in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
Mr Labaran Magaji, the lead prosecution counsel, stated that the verdict would send a strong message to other criminal elements that Nigeria has zero tolerance for maritime criminals and that Nigerian institutions, including the Nigerian Navy, prosecuting agencies, and security agencies, are prepared to combat criminal activity.
The defense attorney has stated that he will appeal the decision.
On May 15, 2020, the Nigerian Navy (NN) rescued 18 crew members onboard a Chinese vessel, the FV HAILUFENG II, from a pirate attack. Following that, ten people were charged at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi.
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The defendants were charged with three counts of piracy, alleging that they violated Sections 3, 10, and 12 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses Act 2019.
Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi were among those named as defendants.