A Federal High Court in Lagos State has sentenced 10 suspected pirates to 12 years' imprisonment for kidnapping the crew of a Chinese-flagged merchant vessel last year.

Delivering the judgment on Friday, Justice Ayokunle Faji submitted that piracy had been an embarrassment to the nation and had impacted the economy negatively.

File photo used to illustrate story.

According to a release from the Nigerian Navy obtained by SaharaReporters, the convicts are; Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi.

The judge stated that the punishment for the act must be proportionate to the offence committed by the convicts to serve as deterrence to others.

In his submission, the lead prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji, averred that the verdict would send a strong warning to other criminal elements that Nigeria had zero-tolerance for maritime criminals.

He added that it would send a strong message that Nigerian institutions, including the Nigerian Navy, and other security agencies were ready to counter criminal activities.

The defence counsel had promised to appeal the judgment.

It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy rescued 18 crew members on board the Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II, from a pirates’ attack on May 15, 2020.

Subsequently, the 10 suspects were charged before the Federal High Court, Ikoyi.

The suspects were charged to three 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.

 

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