The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos State, has sentenced 10 pirates to 12 years in prison, with fines of N250,000 on each count, for hijacking a Chinese merchant ship.
According to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, the suspects have been charged with three counts bordering on piracy.
In May 2020, the Nigerian Navy rescued 18 crew members during an operation involving the hijacking of the Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II, by pirates.
An official statement released to the press in Abuja by the Nigerian Navy spokesman, Commodore Suleman Dahun, disclosed that the defendants were Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adeola Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
In his judgement, Justice Ayokunle Faji said that piracy had been an embarrassment to the country and negatively impacted the economy.
According to the court, the punishment for such an act should be proportional to the crime committed by the convicts in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to Mr Labaran Magaji, the verdict would send a strong message to other criminal elements that Nigeria has zero-tolerance for maritime criminals.