The Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act promoted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was today, Moday July 13th 2020 tested in court for the first time, as 10 alleged pirates were arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The 10 alleged pirates were arrested in May 2020 by the Nigerian Navy in collaboration with NIMASA for the hijacking of a fishing vessel, named FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
The defendants, said to be resident 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 on three counts before Justice Ayokunle Faji at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, which is prosecuting them, 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, a fishing vessel belonging to Haina Fishery Company, by putting them in fear in order to take control of the vessel.”
The prosecuting counsel for the Federal Government, Laraban Magaji, said the defendants committed the offence in May this year 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.
When the charges were read to them, the defendants, however, pleaded not guilty.
While adjourning the case till July 15, 2020 for the hearing of the defendants’ bail applications and commencement of trial, Justice Faji ordered that they should be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, which brought them to court amidst heavy security.