Lagos — A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced 10 sea pirates to a total of 48 years each in prison under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences, SPOMO, Act, for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May 2020.
Justice Ayokunle Faji convicted the defendants and sentenced them to 12 years imprisonment each on all four counts as charged. The 48 years imprisonment is, however, to run concurrently.
In addition to each of the convicts spending 12 years behind bars, they would also pay a cumulative fine of N10 million.
The convicts, who reside in Nigeria, are Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki and David Akinseye. Others are Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.
They were arraigned in July 2020 by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation for allegedly hijacking the Chinese vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.
They pleaded not guilty and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, following which trial commenced.
Delivering his judgment on Friday, July 23, 2021, Justice Faji said the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubts that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina fishing company.
Reacting to the landmark judgement, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said history has been made and added that a huge lacuna has been filled in the battle against maritime crimes in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
The SPOMO Act was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 as a major stride in Nigeria’s quest in ensuring prosecution of criminals in the Nigerian maritime domain.