The Federal High Court in Lagos sentenced ten pirates to a total of 120 years in jail on Friday for seizing a Chinese fishing vessel, the FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May of last year.
In addition to serving 12 years in prison, each of the offenders would have to pay a N10 million fee.
Justice Ayokunle Faji found the defendants guilty of all four charges.
Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi are the Nigerian prisoners.
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) charged them in July 2020 with allegedly hijacking a Chinese 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, where their trial was to begin.
Mr. Faji stated in his decision on Friday that the prosecution showed beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did seize the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
“I agree with the prosecuting counsel, Labaran Morggji, that the prosecution has shown the fundamental elements of the offence committed by each of the defendants, namely, that the defendants plotted to commit the illegal act.
“All of the defendants participated in the hijacking of the ship to pursue a shared aim.
“As a result, I find each of the defendants guilty of all charges.
“Each defendant was sentenced to 12 years in jail.
“In fact, the offenders must pay a N1 million fine apiece.
“The defendants’ crime has an impact on the well-being of Nigerians and our reputation in the diaspora.
“The naira amount, dollars, and different currencies collected by the Nigerian Navy from the defendants are thus forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The defendants were apprehended by the Nigerian Navy in May of this year and turned over to the authorities.
During the trial, the government told the court that the defendants “committed an illegal act of violence against the crew on board FV Hai Lu Feng II belonging to Haina Fishing Company by placing them in dread in order to take control of the vessel while armed with firearms.”
Mr. Magaji, the prosecution’s lawyer, stated that they had breached Section 3 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, which is punished under Section 2 of the same Act.