Ten men have been found guilty at the Federal High Court in Lagos, for allegedly hijacking a vessel In the gulf of guinea.
Justice Ayokunle Faji who heard the case also sentenced them to twelve years each on the four counts of the offence, but added that the sentences would run concurrently, not cumulatively.
The sailors were also ordered to pay fines of 1 million naira each and the monies recovered by the Federal government which were said to have been stolen from their victims, are to be forfeited.
The suspected pirates are Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.
They were arraigned before Justice Faji in July last year for hijacking a fishing vessel in May 2020 on international waters off Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire.
According to the government’s counsel, Labaran Magaji, they violated Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, and were liable to punishment under Section 2 of the same Act.
Each defendant pleaded not guilty, following which trial commenced and was completed..
This is the first of two cases that have been prosecuted under the 2019 anti-piracy law of Nigeria. A related case which was heard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State was concluded earlier after the defendants in that case entered a guilty plea.
But in this instant case in Lagos, counsel to some of the defendants, Monday Mawah, say they have strong grounds to challenge their conviction and will be heading to the Court of Appeal.