A Federal High Court in Abuja has removed a House of Representatives member, Chris Azubogu as the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for Anambra South Senatorial District in the 2023 general elections.
The federal lawmaker was kicked out of the senatorial race on grounds of his membership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) when in June this year he stood for the primary election under APGA for Anambra South Senatorial District.
Delivering judgment in the suit instituted by mister Ben Nwankwo, challenging the nomination of Azubogu, Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the lawmaker violated Section 65 and 68 of the 1999 Constitution in the unlawful ways and manners he stood for the primary election under APGA platform and got nominated for the February next year senatorial election for Anambra South.
Justice Ekwo agreed with the plaintiff that Azubogu ought to have resigned, defected or cross carpeted from PDP to APGA before he can lawfully qualify to stand for primary election on the platform of another party.
As a serving member of the House of Representatives, representing Nnewi North/ Nnewi South/ Ekwusigo Federal Constituency under the PDP ticket, Justice Ekwo held that Azubogu ought to have relinquished the seat if he had actually resigned his membership, defected from PDP to APGA or another political party .
The court held that without complying with mandatory provisions of Sections 65 and 68 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 27 of the APGA guidelines for primary election for 2022, there was no way the federal lawmaker can lawfully participate in any primary election other than that of the PDP.
The court held that as at June 1, 2022 when APGA conducted its primary election for the nomination of candidate for Anambra South Senatorial District, Azubogu was not qualified to participate.
The court added that any action taken in contravention or breach of the 1999 Constitution is unconstitutional, null and void, adding that Azubogu having not been a member of APGA at the time he purportedly stood for the primary election of the party cannot be lawfully nominated by APGA.
The court consequently nullified his purported nomination and submission of his name to INEC as candidate of APGA for the 2023 senatorial election.
In his place, Justice Ekwo ordered that the plaintiff, Ben Nwankwo’s name be submitted to the electoral body as candidate of APGA for the election.
The court issued restraining order prohibiting the House of Representatives member from parading himself as APGA candidate in the 2023 election and INEC from according him recognition as APGA’s candidate.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has awarded cost against the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in a suit filed by a retired naval personnel, Igwe Dennis Nwaokpara, alleging deportation/extraordinary rendition from Kenya and a five-year illegal seizure of his international passport.
Justice Yellim Bogoro gave the order for the NIS to pay N50,000 as cost after the Service forced an adjournment on the court, following its unpreparedness to commence defence of Nwaokpara’s N12billion Fundamental Rights Application.
Nwaokpara who runs an agro-allied business in the East African country, alleged that in June 2017, the Kenyan Immigration Service returned him to Nigeria hours after he arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, following a request by the NIS.
He claimed further that he was then detained and handed over by the NIS to the Police Special Fraud Unit, adding that there was no court proceeding before the “extraordinary rendition”.
He added that despite his detention for months, the Police established no allegation against him, following which he was released.
He said upon his release from SFU custody, the NIS refused to return his International passport.
Through his lawyer, Ademola Owolabi, he asked the court to declare that his extraordinary rendition/arrest and/or detention and confiscation of his passport were unlawful.
He also wants the court to compel the NIS to pay him N12b as damages for its role in his alleged illegal removal from Kenya and the release of his International passport.
At the commencement of proceedings today, Mr Owolabi told Justice Bogoro that the case was for hearing, adding that the NIS was served the motion on notice in June and and hearing notice informing them about today’s proceeding which was duly acknowledged acknowledged. He prayed for the court’s permission to move his application.
Responding, Counsel to the NIS, Mufutau Gbadamosi said he had only just heard of the matter and was yet to study the case file. He asked for a short adjournment to enable the NIS put its house in order.
But the counsel to the applicant opposed him. He asked the court to discountenance the arguments of the NIS and to allow him to move his application.
“They are holding his passport and his right to travel has been abridged; it favours them to say they have just been informed.
“Should the court however be mindful of granting an adjournment, we pray for an order that the applicant’s passport is deposited with the court’s registrar pending the hearing of the application. We are also asking for cost of N150,000.
“We’ve been asking them for the passport since 2017, we pray the court to strike a balance by asking for it to be deposited in the court’s registry. The facts are clear; he was illegally renditioned from Kenya. Even the Nnamdi Kanu case is better, because there is no judicial precedent for this (applicant’s matter). It is a case of gross impunity and abuse of power, the type that did not happen even in colonial times. The applicant’s family and business are in Kenya. He was brought back in a humiliating manner and can’t go back.” Owolabi said.
After hearing from both parties, Justice Bogoro awarded N50,000 as cost against the NIS. The judge declined to make any order as to the passport and adjourned till December 15 for hearing of the plaintiff’s application.
Nwaokpara is asking the court for nine reliefs, including a declaration that his arrest in Kenya and refusal to produce him before a Kenyan court for extradition were unlawful.
He is also seeking a declaration that his alleged “deportation/extraordinary rendition” was illegal, adding that the confiscation of his international passport Ao6128442 since June 13, 2017, was unlawful, and unconstitutional.
He further prayed, among others, for an order directing the NIS to “forthwith” release the International Passport as well as an order directing the NIS to write to the Kenyan Immigration Service that he is neither a criminal nor was being investigated by the Federal Government.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has held that there is no cogent reason given by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for a repeat election or the cancelation of its primary election of May 24 for the Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
The court therefore ordered the PDP to submit to INEC, the name of Abdul Kareem Shittu, as the candidate of the party in place of Awesu AbdulAzeez whose name was submitted.
Justice Daniel Osiagor held that Shittu won the party’s Lagos State House of Representatives primary conducted on May 24, 2022, by a simple majority.
Justice Osiagor also held that the INEC form signed by officials of the party and contersigned by the INEC official had the name of the plaintiff, Abdul Kareem Shittu, written on it as winner of the primary election.
The judge directed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to recognise Shitu as the validly nominated candidate for the Ikorodu Federal Constituency.
The judge made the order while delivering judgment in Shittu’s suit challenging PDP’s purported submission of the name of the third defendant in the suit, Awesu AbdulAzeez A. to INEC as its candidate for the constituency.
The PDP and INEC are listed as the first and second defendants.
The third defendant, Awesu had challenged the suit on the grounds that it was statute-barred but in his judgment, Justice Osiagor held that the plaintiff did not run afoul of Section 285 of the Electoral Act which prescribed a 14-day window for filing of pre-election matters.
He held that what Shittu complained of was not the result of the election but the purported submission of the name of the third defendant to INEC on the 17th of June, which he became aware of on the 18th of June, adding that the plaintiff’s suit takes care of that window limitation.
On the third defendant’s objection that the plaintiff did not seek the resolution of the dispute through the internal mechanism of the party as stipulated in the party’s constitution, Justice Osiagor held that the party’s rule is subservient to the Electoral Act.
He added that the provisions in the party’s rules which provide for internal mechanism in dispute resolution cannot rob the Federal High Court of jurisdiction as freely given under the Electoral Act.
The judge noted that to make matters worse, the PDP did not come to court to deny or file any document to prove the genuineness of the May 6th result tendered by the plaintiff.
The judge warned politicians to note that gone were the days when they would gather people together in the name of elections and later go back to overule the mandate given by the people.
In his affidavit before the court, Shittu had submitted that he participated in the primary election conducted by the PDP to elect its candidate for the House of Representatives in Ikorodu on May 24, 2022, and got the highest number of votes cast.
He stated that having won the primary election, his name was announced in the presence of all the party’s members who witnessed and participated in the election and his name was entered into the official result slip of the party.
Shittu also said thatvthe party later cancelled the primary election due to a petition written by the third respondent, and the party rescheduled the election following which it was held on June 6.
He contended that at the rescheduled primary election in which he and Awesu AbdulAzeez participated, both of them got the same number of votes and based on that and in line with the party’s guidelines for primary election to nominate its candidate, there should have been a re-run.
He added that instead of conducting one, the party went ahead to nominate the third respondent as its candidate to INEC, a situation which compelled him to file the suit in court.
The Federal High Court, has issued new practice directions that allows for virtual hearing of cases and electronic service of notices on lawyers.
This is to Provide for a fair, impartial and expeditious determination of pre-election cases.
The new practice directions, which was issued by Chief Judge of the Court, Justice John Tsoho, forbade judges from granting more than two adjournments to any party in an election dispute.
It also provided that interlocutory issues touching on the jurisdiction of the Court, shall be suspended and delivered at the stage of final judgment.
According to a statement the court issued through its Assistant Director, Information, Catherine Christopher, the CJ made the new rules in the exercise of the power conferred on him by section 254, 285 (9), (10) and (14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Sections 29(5), as well as 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022 (as amended).
The statement adds that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court may direct that matters be transferred to the appropriate Division or any other Division as may be reasonably practicable considering the given circumstances.
On service of processes, the new rules, provides that a party shall not serve a notice of an application on another party on the date scheduled for hearing.
Also, to ensure speedy dispensation of justice, electronic mail and other electronic means may be employed by the Court in order to inform counsel of urgent Court case events. Provides that such notification shall be given at least forty-eight hours before the scheduled Court date.
“In line with the provision of Rule 5(2) of the Rule, parties are expected to furnish the Court Registrar with functional telephone numbers and email addresses of themselves and their counsel.
“The Court and the parties shall prevent unnecessary delays and accordingly, not more than two adjournments shall be granted to any party to an action covered by the provisions of the Practice Directions.
“Where a party seeks to change his Counsel during the lifespan of a case, not more than two adjournments shall be granted to him to so do.
“Where it is expedient, and in furtherance of the objectives of this Practice directions, the Court may schedule the time and date of hearing on such day and at such time as may be convenient for the parties,” the statement partly read.
It further adds that counsel shall ensure that they are present in court and ready to proceed with their case at all times.
“Where the provisions of the Rule 6(7) of the Rule becomes impracticable by reason of ill-health or any other unavoidable incidence, such Counsel shall ensure that a Counsel of requisite knowledge of the issues before the Court Is present in Court and ready to proceed with the case in his or her stead or apply that the case be heard virtually where practicable; with the consent of parties”, the new practice directions stipulated.
Justice D.U Okorowo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has convicted and wound up Marqott Nigeria Limited, one of the 30 companies associated with the Process and Industrial Development Limited, P & ID, for money laundering.
The company was convicted on Thursday, June 16, 2022 after being found guilty of four count charges bordering on money laundering preferred against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Count one of the charge read: “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of activities of Marqott Nigeria Limited contrary to Section 16(1) (f) read together with Section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”
Count two read: “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to develop programs to combat money laundering and other illegal acts, to wit: failure to designate at management level a compliance officer within any strata of Marqott Nigeria Limited, contrary to Section 16(1)(f) read together with Section 9(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act”.
At the point of first arraignment on February 7, 2022, the defendant pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, setting a stage for full trial.
In the course of the trial, the EFCC presented many witnesses and tendered many documents as exhibits.
In his judgment, Justice Okorowo found Marqott Nigeria Limited guilty of all the four count charges and convicted it accordingly. He also ordered that the company be wound up and its entire assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Marqott was first arraigned on Monday, February 7, 2022 for being an accomplice in the $9.6bn Gas Supply and Processing Agreement between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and P&ID.
There will be no more media coverage for cases bordering on terrorism, the Federal High Court of Nigeria has said.
The court’s Chief Information Officer, Dr Catherine Christopher, announced this in a statement on Thursday while outlining FHC’s new practice directions.
Terrorism proceedings, according to the statement, will be conducted in secret except when the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, grants permission for media coverage.
It stated that terrorism proceedings will hold at any place to be designated by the chief judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue, for the time being, would be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“The Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, in exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling him, hereby made the following practice directions,” the statement read.
“These practice directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties, personnel of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, as well as members of the general public while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.
“Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of Section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the court.”
The court warned that anyone who contravenes an order or direction made under the practice directions would be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).
It said the perimeters of the court sitting over a terrorism trial would be secured for the period of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials, while distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial would be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.
The court stressed that nobody would be allowed within the secured perimeters, except the approved court officials, parties, and a number of pre-registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses, and any other person as may be directed by the judge or the most senior judge in the given circumstances.
Read the full Practice Directions Below:
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
FEDERAL HIGH COURT OF NIGERIA
PRACTICE DIRECTIONS (ON TRIAL OF TERRORISM CASES) 2022
In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, John Terhemba Tsoho, The Honourable, The Chief Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria, hereby make the following Practice Directions:
These Practice Directions shall, save to the extent as may be otherwise directed by The Honourable, The Chief Judge, apply to all trials of cases under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended) before the Federal High Court sitting anywhere in Nigeria.
DIRECTIONS ON TRIAL PROCEEDINGS
1) Perimeters of the Court
(a) The perimeters of the Court sitting over a terrorism trial shall be secured for the period of the trial for safety of litigants and Court officials.
(b) Distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial shall be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.
(c) No person shall be allowed within the secured perimeters save the approved Court officials; parties and a number of pre- registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses; and any other person as may be directed by the Judge or the most Senior Judge in the given circumstances
2) Premises of the Court:
Only the Judges; other essential Court Staff and security agencies involved in the particular case and their vehicles shall have access to the Court premises.
Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the Court.
The names, addresses, telephone numbers and identity of the victims of such offences or witnesses in the proceedings shall not be disclosed in any record or report of the proceedings and it shall be sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses with a combination of alphabets.
In any proceedings where the Court deems it necessary to ensure the safety and/or protect the identity of the victim or a witness, it may take any or all of the following protective measures:
a). Hold its proceedings at any place to be designated by the Chief Judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue for the time being, shall be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal;
b). Receive evidence by video link;
c). Permit the witness to be screened or masked;
d). Receive written depositions of expert witnesses;
e). Direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the Court shall not be published in any manner;
f). Exclude from the proceedings any person other than the parties and their legal representatives;
g). Make order as to any electronic devices that would be allowed during proceedings;
h). Make order on any other measure that the Court considers appropriate in the circumstances.
COVERAGE OF PROCEEDINGS
Coverage of proceedings under these Practice Directions is strictly prohibited, save as may be directed by the Court.
A person who contravenes an order or direction made under these Practice Directions shall be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).
These Practice Directions shall be cited as the Federal High Court Practice Directions (On Trial of Terrorism Cases) 2022.
These Practice Directions take immediate effect.
Dated this 5th day of April 2022
Hon. Justice John Terhemba Tsoho (FICMC)
Federal High Court of Nigeria
These Practice Directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties; personnel of law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary; as well as members of the general public; while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the Speaker of the Ebonyi House of Assembly and other lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to immediately stop holding themselves out as members of the assembly.
Justice Ekwo, in a separate judgement, had also sacked Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, for defecting from the PDP.
The Judge held that the votes that brought them to office belonged to the PDP and that the legislators cannot hold on to the votes having chosen to defect from the party that nominated them.
Justice Tsoho stated that more cases were filed, and the dockets of the judges became enormously loaded following the improvement in the control of the COID-19 pandemic.
But he believes with the appointment of new judges almost completed, the court will be able to tackle the problems.
The chief judge said he remained committed to enhancing effective administration of justice and the welfare of judges and staff, noting that several practice directions have been issued to ensure seamless and robust administration of justice.
Despite the low budgetary allocations to the judiciary and the Federal High Court in particular, he stated that the training and retraining of judges and staff have continued.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, was represented at the event by the Acting Director of Civil Appeals, Tijani Gazali.
He commended the court for its effort in straightening the country’s justice system, especially the recent declaration of banditry as a terrorist organisation.
According to the minister, such a step will further strengthen the fight against banditry and other security threats in the country.
A representative of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Kanu Agabi, who also spoke, described judges and lawyers as agents of change.
He, therefore, urged them to shun all forms of corruption.
The Federal High Court in Abuja has declared bandit groups as terrorists.
In a ruling delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo on Friday, the court specifically held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups, constitute acts of terrorism.
The ruling followed an ex parte motion the Federal Government filed through the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The FG had in an affidavit it filed in support of the motion, told the court that intelligence reports affirmed that the bandit groups masterminded several killings, abductions, rapes, kidnappings, and related acts of criminality in the north-east, north-central, and other parts of the country.
It alleged that the groups were equally responsible for the growing cases of banditry, incessant kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities, particularly in the Northwest and Northcentral states in Nigeria.
The Director of Public Prosecution, Abubakar, told the court that perturbed by the actions of the bandits, President Muhammadu Buhari, gave approval for their proscription as a terrorist group.
Justice Taiwo accordingly granted the motions as prayed by declaring the activities of the “Yan Bindiga group, the Yan Ta’adda group and other similar groups in any part of the country, especially in the north-west and the north-central as acts of terrorism and illegality.
The court further outlawed the activities of the groups and other similar groups in any part of Nigeria.
It further made an order restraining “any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever, in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the Yan Bindiga group and the Yan Ta’adda group under any other name or platform however called or described”.
Justice Taiwo further ordered the FG to publish the proscription order in the official gazette as well as in two national dailies.
The Federal High Court has fixed October 14, for the re-arraignment of the former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh, over alleged fraud to the tune of ₦400 million.
The date was fixed following the absence of the new trial judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, in court on Tuesday.
Consequently, Metuh’s re-trial could not proceed, despite his presence and that of all the parties involved, in court.
The court of Appeal, Abuja, had on December 16, 2020, nullified a Federal High Court judgement that convicted and sentenced Metuh to seven years imprisonment for money laundering.
The appellate court held that the judgement of the trial judge, Okon Abang, was tainted with bias, and subsequently sent the case file back to the Federal High Court for retrial by another judge.
Metuh would be re-tried over allegations of receiving the sum of 400 million from the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), prior to the 2015 presidential election, without contract approval or execution.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has again rejected an appeal to stop the local government elections scheduled to hold Saturday in the state.
The Alliance of Social Democrats and 10 other political parties had filed the suit against the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) and Lagos State Government seeking to stop the holding of the Chairmen and Councillors election into the 57 Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas.
The parties claimed that the Court of Appeal reversed INEC’s decision to deregister them but despite this, LASIEC did not list their parties on the ballot.
They, therefore, invited the court to stop Saturday’s LG elections.
The Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice in Lagos, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Moyosore Onigbanjo, however, countered this submission.
Onigbanjo told the judge that the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain their claims.
In a ruling delivered Friday, Justice Akintoye Aluko upheld the submissions of the Attorney General on behalf of the Lagos State Government and declined jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
The court also transferred the suit to the State High Court pursuant to Section 22 (2) Federal High Court Act.
In a related development, the court also upheld the same decision in another matter filed by the Youth Party against LASIEC.
The court not only declined jurisdiction on the matter but also vacated the Interim Order of Injunction earlier granted in the matter on July 12.
With these developments, the elections in to the 57 Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas in the state will now hold as scheduled on Saturday, July 24.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced 10 pirates to twelve years imprisonment each for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May 2020.
Justice Ayokunle Faji who said their actions affect the well-being of all Nigerians also ordered each pirate to pay a fine of N1million each.
Delivering his judgment on Friday, Justice Faji said the Federal Government proved beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
The judge held: “I agree with the prosecution counsel, Labaran Magaji that the prosecution has proved the essential ingredients of the offence committed by each of the defendants; the defendants conspired to commit the illegal act.
“All the defendants acted in hijacking the ship to achieve their common goal.
“Consequently I find each of the defendants guilty as charged on all the counts.
“Each defendant is hereby sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
“In addition, the defendants should pay a fine of N1million each.
“The offence committed by the defendants affects the wellbeing of Nigerians and our image in the diaspora.
“The naira sum, dollars, and various currencies recovered from the defendants by the Nigerian Navy are hereby forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The judge convicted each of the defendants on all 4 counts made against them.
The convicts said to be residents in Nigeria, 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 by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on July 13, 2020, on a four-count charge bordering on the hijacking of the vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.
They pleaded not guilty and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, following which trial commenced.
In the course of the trial, the government told the court that the defendants “while armed with weapons, committed an illegal act of violence against the crew on board FV Hai Lu Feng II belonging to Haina Fishing Company by putting them in fear in order to take control of the vessel.”
The government also said their action violated Section 3 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, punishable under Section 2 of the same Act, and urged the court to use the case to send a strong message to pirates that Nigeria would not condone such criminal activities which had huge implications for the country.