Ten men were found guilty of hijacking a vessel in the Gulf of Guinea by the federal high court in Lagos on Friday.
The case was heard by Justice Ayokunle Faji, who sentenced them to twelve years in prison on each of the four counts of the offense, but added that the sentences would run concurrently rather than cumulatively.
The sailors were also ordered to pay fines of one million naira apiece, as well as forfeit any funds recovered by the Federal government that were allegedly taken from their victims.
Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi are among the suspected pirates.
They were charged with seizing a fishing vessel in international waters off the coast of Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire’s capital, in May 2020.
They violated Section 3 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, according to the government’s counsel, Labaran Magaji, and were subject 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 instances to be prosecuted under Nigeria’s anti-piracy law, which was passed in 2019. A comparable case heard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was settled earlier after the defendants entered guilty pleas in that instance.
But in this instant case in Lagos, counsel to some of the defendants, Monday Mawah, said they have strong grounds to challenge their conviction and will be heading to the Court of Appeal.