Court Sentences 10 Pirates To 12 Years Jail Term For Hijacking Chinese Ship

 

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.

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“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.

Troops Rescue Nigerians, Foreigners Abducted Off Coast of Gabon

The army on March 6, 2021, said it rescued four Nigerians and 10 foreigners abducted off the Coast of Gabon.
The army on March 6, 2021, said it rescued four Nigerians and 10 foreigners abducted off the Coast of Gabon.

 

The Nigerian Army on Saturday said it had rescued 10 foreign workers and four Nigerians who were kidnapped off the coast of Gabon.

According to a statement signed by an army spokesman, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, the rescue operation was carried out by troops of the sixth division.

READ ALSO: Two Farmers Killed During Clash With Herders In Ekiti

“The rescue operation was carried out successfully and without any ugly incident or casualties,” the statement said.

“The rescued victims will be handed over to law enforcement for further profiling before they are released to their loved ones.”

10 Suspected Pirates Accused Of Hijacking Vessel Denied Bail

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has refused to grant bail to 10 suspected pirates accused of hijacking a fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.

Justice Ayokunle Faji denied them bail on Wednesday on the ground that the gravity of the charge against them bordered on the threat to national security.

He also considered the punishments for the alleged crimes, which stipulates a life sentence or at least a fine of not less than N50 million and restitution, if found guilty under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act of 2019.

This is the first trial to be prosecuted under the law and Justice Faji has ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.

After his ruling on the bail applications, the court listened to the testimony of a fourth prosecution witness.

The witness and a police superintendent, Danladi Aliyu, told the judge that his team was on the Federal Government’s panel to probe piracy.

A file photo of a signpost of the Federal High Court in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.

 

Sometime in May, the team was tasked with interrogating the defendants.

But counsel to the first, third, fourth, eighth, and ninth defendants, Omoniyi Aruwayo, objected to the admission of certain confessional statements allegedly made by the suspects during the interrogation.

The lawyers individually argued that the information contained in the statements were obtained under duress and after several beatings.

They urged the court not to accept the statements in evidence as exhibits.

This development prompted Justice Faji to conduct a trial-within-trial to scrutinise the statements.

Giving his testimony, Aliyu denied that the defendants were tortured and informed the court that the process was done in a conducive atmosphere which had light, AC, TV and a refrigerator.

He added that lawyers from the legal aid counsel, who represented the defendants, witnessed the interrogation.

The witness also insisted that other officers from the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Navy were also present at the interrogation.

In his ruling, Justice Faji adjourned until August 4 for the continuation of the trial-within-trial during which a video of the statement taking process would be watched.

The defendants in the case 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 on July 13 on three counts and were accused of hijacking a fishing vessel.

The prosecuting counsel for the Federal Government, Laraban Magaji, said the defendants committed the offence in May on the international water at Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, thereby violating Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, and were liable to punishment under Section 2 of the same Act.

They all pleaded not guilty during their arraignment and after their plea, the prosecution immediately called its first three witnesses.

Last week, the defendants’ counsel argued their applications for bail on the grounds that there was no cogent information in the charge, and that the offences were bailable ones which the court has the powers to grant.

Some of the defendants were also said to be ill and needed medical attention outside their detention facilities.

The court, however, ruled that there was no proof of the nature of the said illnesses in their applications.

Nigerian Navy Arrests 10 Pirates Who Attacked Chinese Vessel

 

The Nigerian Navy has arrested 10 pirates who were reported to have attacked a Chinese Vessel, MV Hailufang (II).

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Commander NNS BEECROFT, Commodore IA Shettima, on Monday.

According to Shettima, the vessel was attacked on May 15 by pirates of the coast of Cote de Viore.

Thereafter, they took control of the vessel which had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians and Ivorians, and directed it towards Nigerian Waters.

“The Nigerian Navy was alerted of the pirate attack and immediately, the Nigerian Navy Ship NGURU was dispatched to intercept the vessel.

“On interception of the vessel at about 140nm south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates refused to comply to the orders of the Navy Ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel. All ship crew were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were arrested,” the NNS Commander stated.

He added that it is pertinent to note that the last five known or documented pirate attacks were outside of Nigerian waters, of which the Nigerian Navy has responded in the interest of Regional Security.

“This is aptly captured in the NN Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy ‘which covers Nigeria’s outermost maritime area of interest, encompassing the entire West African waters and the GoG,” Shettima said.

According to the Navy boss, this underscores the need for increased regional cooperation in terms of information sharing and further deepening of our response capability.

He noted that for instance, the latest rescue effort was bolstered by additional intel received from the Beninous Navy during the operation.

“This also emphasizes the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral IE Ibas commitment to ensuring maritime security within Nigeria’s maritime space and the Gulf of Guinea in general,” Shettima added.

Meanwhile, he used the opportunity to warn the criminal elements that engage in any acts of maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea to desist, noting that the Nigerian Navy has the capability and will power to deal with such perpetrators.

Pirates Hide In Tarkwa-Bay To Commit Crimes – Rear Admiral Daji

 

Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, the Commander of Operation Awatse, says Tarkwa-bay is a hideout for sea robbers and officially it is a non-residential area.

Daji disclosed these on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise daily.

Speaking concerning the eviction of Tarkwa-bay residents, Daji described this as a clearance operation code-named Operation Kuronbe (Yoruba word meaning Leave There).

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He described the eviction as impressive, stressing that “no casualty has been recorded as opposed to the information on social media.

He added that the clearance operation was needed because Tarkwa-Bay has turned to a hideout for sea robbers and pirates who freely operate due to lack of security presence in the area.

“If you look at the geography of Tarkwa Bay, it is located by the South West of the two major ports that we have in Lagos – the Tin Can Island Port and Apapa Port Complex.

“This area is open to the sea and also at the entrance of Lagos harbour. It is a very strategic port area in which criminals have taken advantage of the lack of (security) presence to perpetrate all sorts of activities.

“Also most of the (people behind) incidents of sea robbery and piracy along the waterways hide in Tarkwa Bay,” he said.

Daji who is also the FOC, Western Naval Command added that militants hide in Tarkwa-Bay before unleashing mayhem.

According to him, the area is officially non-residential, hence the need for the clearance operation.

“Just a few years ago, the militants who burnt the jetty through which vessels deliver products into NNPC facility at Atlas cove hibernated in Tarkwa-Bay before carrying out that dastardly act.

“Tarkwa Bay is non-residential, either by the Lagos State laws or physical planning or by the NPA which is holding the place in trust for the Federal Government is non-residential.”

Thousands were rendered homeless following the recent eviction of Tarkwa Bay residents. This led to an outcry on social media. See some of the tweets below…

 

EFCC Arraigns 26 Suspected Pirates, Vessel

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in Lagos has arraigned 26 suspected pirates alongside a company, Sam Pam Nigeria Limited, and a Vessel, MV Neso II, before Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi.

According to a statement by the Head, Media & Publicity of the agency, Wilson Uwujaren, the suspects were arraigned on two-counts bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.

Some of them include: Frances Onyeama, Adebayo M. Charles, Melvin A. Jack, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, Umoren Harrison Daniel, Oloyede Y. Ademola, Arichibong Aniete James, Richard Essien David, Oke Asaki and Mike Simon.

Others are: Godswill Emmanuel Umoh, Edu Fidelis, Miebaka Iyaka, Kinsley Terry, Austine Abararowei, Udom Victor Jerome, Victor Uchendu, Firstman Job, Nelson Sokarabo Solomon, Emomotimi F. Watchman, Iwuoha Okechukwu Victor, Ogerugba Patrick (a.k.a Odafe) Emmanuel Eze, Inyang Ruyie Grace and Paul Obi.

One of the counts reads, “that you MV Neso II, Frances Onyeama, Adebayo M. Charles, Melvin A. Jack, Omogoye Wasiu Bolaji, Umoren Harrison Daniel, Oloyede Y. Ademola, Arichibong Aniete James, Richard Essien David, Oke Asaki, Mike Simon, Godswill Emmanuel Umoh, Edu Fidelis, Miebaka Iyaka, Kinsley Terry, Austine Abararowei, Udom Victor Jerome, Victor Uchendu, Firstman Job, Nelson Sokarabo Solomon, Emomotimi F. Watchman, Iwuoha Okechukwu Victor, Ogerugba Patrick (a.k.a Odafe) Emmanuel Eze, Inyang Ruyie Grace, Paul Obi and Sam Pam Nigeria Limited sometime within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did conspire amongst yourselves to deal in Petroleum Products off the Coast of Gabon and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 17(a) and (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act Cap M17 laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Revised Edition) 2004 and Punishable under the same Law”.

According to the statement, the suspects who were arrested by the Nigerian Navy at the Lagos Anchorage Area and handed over to the EFCC on October 14, 2019, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges proffered against them.

In view of their plea, prosecuting counsel, M.K Bashir, asked the court for a trial date.

Meanwhile, counsel to the defendants, Adegboyega Adetunji, informed the court of a pending bail application and urged the judge to grant his clients bail.

Although the prosecution counsel opposed the application, Justice Liman, thereafter, granted bail to the 26 defendants in the sum of N2 million each and one surety in like sum.

The surety must have property within the Jurisdiction of the Court.

He added that the Vessel (MV Neso II) should produce insurance bond from a first class insurance company.

Thereafter, the court adjourned hearing of the matter to 9, 11 and 13, December, 2019 and remanded 25 of them in prison custody and one in the EFCC custody, pending the perfection of their bail conditions.

‘Pirates’ Kidnap 10 Turkish Sailors Off Nigeria Coast

 

Ten Turkish sailors on a cargo ship were kidnapped by armed men off the coast of Nigeria, Turkish state media reported Tuesday.

The Turkish-flagged Paksoy-I cargo vessel, operated by shipping company Kadioglu Denizcilik, was attacked on Monday night, state news agency Anadolu said.

A Kadioglu Denizcilik employee who wished to remain anonymous told AFP that 10 Turkish sailors were kidnapped among 18 crew members on board the ship.

The employee denied local media reports that two sailors had since been freed.

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A company statement cited by Turkish media said the ship was attacked by “pirates” on its way from Cameroon to the Ivory Coast. It was carrying no freight.

Turkey’s ruling party spokesman Omer Celik said a ship with Turkish crew was “seized” off Nigeria, but did not provide further details.

Celik said Turkish authorities were following the issue closely.

Pirates normally seize sailors for ransom. Nigeria reported 14 pirate attacks in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 22 in the same period in 2018.

An International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report in April attributed the drop to the Nigerian navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.”

AFP

Pirates Abduct Six Sailors From Oil Tanker

 

 

Pirates off Nigeria’s oil-rich south have stormed a small oil tanker, kidnapping six sailors, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Thursday, the latest in a string of such attacks.

The Apecus, a Palau-flagged petroleum products tanker of 3,100 deadweight tonnes, was attacked on Friday as it was anchored off Bonny Island, south of oil hub of Port Harcourt, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.

“An anchored tanker was boarded by unauthorised persons who kidnapped six crew and escaped,” the piracy watchdog said, adding that the rest of the crew were reported to be safe. No details of their nationalities were given.

“The Nigerian Navy was notified and an investigation into the incident has been launched,” the IMB added. The Navy was not immediately available for comment.

Pirates normally seize sailors for ransom.

READ ALSO: Senate Invites IGP Over Nigeria’s Security Situation

Nigerian pirates recently hijacked another merchant ship, robbing the vessel’s crew. The unidentified ship was freed in the Gulf of Guinea by a Spanish warship on April 9 after four days.

Days later, on April 15, four armed men boarded another anchored oil tanker, also in the Bonny River area, but Nigerian naval guards onboard fought the pirates off.

Nigeria has been a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade. The country reported 14 pirate attacks for the first quarter of 2019, compared to 22 in the same period in 2018.

A report by IMB early this month attributed the decline to the Navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.”

AFP

Greek Citizens, American Among Nine Suspected Pirates Arrested In Nigeria

Greek Citizens, American Among Nine Suspected Pirates Arrested In Nigeria
The suspects

 

Nine suspected pirates comprising three Greece citizens, an American and five blacks have been arrested during a joint operation by the Nigerian Navy and United States Coast Guard.

The suspects were nabbed when their vessel was stopped within the Nigerian waters while the navy combed the Western Naval Command area of the Gulf of Guinea, under ‘Operation Junction Rain’.

Upon a search of the vessel, the naval operatives recovered four military assault rifles (Bernelli MR-1) loaded with magazines, about 1,000 live ammunition in a box and other hidden exhibits including various communication gadgets, which they earlier denied they had while being interrogated.

The Officer in tactical command of the operation, Commodore Dickson Olisemenogor, said further investigation to unravel others behind the illegal operations of the vessel on the Nigerian waters would continue and those found culpable would be handed over to the concerned agencies for prosecution.

He added that another barge with 10 crew members suspected to be oil thieves was stopped and the crew members were arrested during the operation.

 

Hollywood Must Pay To Chase Internet Pirates, Court Rules

 

Canada’s high court on Friday ruled that Hollywood studios and other copyright holders must pay internet service providers to chase down Canadians who illegally download movies or other online content.

The decision will make slightly more difficult efforts to fight infringements under Canada’s new 2015 copyright law.

The amount that internet service providers should be reimbursed to dig up information on subscribers suspected of infringing on copyrights, however, must still be determined at a future court hearing.

The case was triggered by a group of film producers who got together to fight illegal sharing of their films.

Led by Voltage Pictures, the production company behind “The Hurt Locker” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” sought to know the identity of a customer of Canadian internet service provider Rogers so that they could sue that person. Eventually they planned to sue about 55,000 more Rogers customers, so this was the first of many requests.

Rogers collected the information, but asked the producers to pay a fee of Can$100 (US$77) for it.

In court, Voltage argued that charging for the information would make it cost-prohibitive to track down tens of thousands of alleged law breakers.

Rogers says it receives more than two million requests from rights holders per year to send notices to customers alleging breaches in an effort to discourage ongoing infringement.

Taking the additional step to identify those customers to rights holders risked multiplying its administrative costs, it argued.

The Supreme Court in its ruling said Rogers is entitled to “reasonable costs” for complying with so-called Norwich orders, and sent the matter to a lower court to determine the amount.

AFP

Again, Suspected Pirates Attack Bayelsa Community

Another attack has occurred in Bayelsa State, barely 24-hours after gunmen suspected to be pirates attacked a commercial boat en route Yenagoa, the state capital.

Two passengers including a pregnant woman were shot in the Thursday attack when the pirates attacked the boat travelling from Koluama to Yenagoa.

The fresh attack occurred on Friday morning by 8:45 a.m. as the suspected sea pirates attacked a commercial boat at Okobotuo area, along Akassa-Yenagoa waterways.

They carted away a 115 horsepower boat engine at Okobotuo Area along Akassa-Yenagoa waterways as they shot into the air, scaring residents who scampered into safety.

READ ALSO: Bureau De Change Operator Bags Three Years Imprisonment For Fraud

These incidents which occurred in quick succession has created fear amongst residents of the state.

The Commissioner of Police in the State, Don Awunah, who spoke with Channels Television blamed the attacks on increased insecurity on the waterway and the riverine topography of Bayelsa State.

Bayelsa is 80% water and 20% land. So we are more likely to have crime that is water based and increase in sea piracy. We are on top of it. We are collaborating with other agencies including the Navy, Army, JTF and Civil Defence,” he said.

He also called for calm amongst residents, saying he believes the collaborative efforts of all security agencies in the state will nib the ugly situation in the bud.

Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Don Awunah.

Suspected Pirates Shoot Pregnant Woman In Bayelsa

Suspected Pirates Shoot Pregnant Woman In Bayelsa
File photo

 

Gunmen suspected to be sea pirates have attacked a Yenagoa bound commercial boat, shooting two passengers including a pregnant woman in Bayelsa State.

Channels Television gathered on Thursday that the pregnant woman, known as Gulu Leghemo, was shot in the stomach and has been taken to a medical facility in Koluama II community.

She was taken alongside a young man simply known as Billy that was also shot by the suspected sea pirates.

The boat was said to be travelling from Koluama to Yenagoa, the state capital, when the pirates attacked the passengers between Koluama I and II axis of the waterways.

Chairman of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Nigerian Maritime Workers Union, Llord Sese, confirmed the incident.

He said apart from shooting the passengers, the pirates also went away with a 200 horsepower engine belonging to one Sunday Leghemo, as well as the personal belongings of the passengers.

Sese also confirmed that the robbed passengers have been rescued and are now seeking refuge at Koluama II.

He also informed Channels Television that suspected pirates have blocked the Akassa route of the waterways on Thursday morning, preventing commuters from travelling to Yenagoa.