A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Friday, sentenced 10 pirates to a total of 48 years each in prison under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May 2020.

This was disclosed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency in a statement by its Assistant Director, Public Relations, Osagie Edward, titled ‘Maritime Security: 10 pirates bag 48 years imprisonment under SPOMO Act’.

It said Justice Ayokunle Faji convicted the defendants 12 years each on all four counts as charged, adding that the 48 years imprisonment is, however, to run concurrently.

In addition to each of the convicts spending 12 years behind bars, they would also pay a cumulative fine of N10m, the statement said.

“The convicts, who reside 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 in July 2020 by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation for allegedly hijacking the Chinese vessel in international waters off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire,” it said.

It said they pleaded not guilty and were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, following which trial commenced.

Delivering his judgment on Friday, Justice Faji said the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the pirates did hijack the vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company, according to the statement.