The Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi convicted 10 men of piracy under a new law designed to thwart maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.
A federal judge in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, handed down 12-year prison sentences to the pirates, said Labaran Magaji, the prosecuting lawyer.
The West African nation’s navy captured the men in May 2020 after they boarded a Chinese fishing vessel off the Ivory Coast and kidnapped the crew.
The suspects were convicted on a three count charge bordering on piracy in contravention of the provisions of Section 3, 10 and 12 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019.
The defendants include Frank Abaka, Jude Eberagha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adeola Philip, Mathew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji, said that piracy was an embarrassment to the nation and had impacted the economy negatively.
READ ALSO: Joshua, ex-Fidelity Bank ED joins FCMB Group
The court also stated that punishment for this act must be proportionate to the offense committed by the convicts to serve as deterrence to others.
The lead counsel, Labaran Magaji, in his submission said that the verdict would send a strong warning to other criminal elements that Nigeria has zero-tolerance for maritime.
He added that national institutions like the Nigerian Navy, prosecuting agencies, and security agencies are ready to counter criminal activities using the judicial and lawful channels.
Counsel to the defendants, however, indicated readiness to appeal the judgment by insisting on the innocence of his clients.
The Nigerian Navy rescued 18 crew members on board a Chinese vessel, FV HAILUFENG II from pirates attack on 15th May, 2020, subsequent upon which the convicted persons were charged before the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.