A Federal High Court in Abuja has sentenced 10 pirates involved in the 2020 hijack of a merchant vessel to 12 years imprisonment each with a N250,000 fine on each count. Delivering the judgment today at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi in Lagos submitted that piracy has been an embarrassment to the nation and has impacted the economy negatively.
Hence, Justice Ayokunle Faji stated that punishment for this act must be 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 strong warning to other criminal elements in the country that Nigeria has zero tolerance for maritime criminals and that Nigerian institutions, both Nigerian Navy, prosecuting agencies and security agencies of Nigeria are ready to counter criminal activities. However, the defence counsel has promised to appeal the judgment.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy rescued 18 crew members on board in a Chinese vessel from pirates attack on 15th May 2020. Subsequently, 10 suspects were charged before the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.
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 include Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.