Federal High Court in Lagos has denied 10 alleged pirates bail in the hijacking of a fishing vessel FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) reportedly urged the Federal High Court not to grant the pirates bail. The case is a test case for the Supression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)
The defendants, who were arraigned on July 13, 2020 before Justice Ayokunle Faji, are namely; Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
The defendants, through their Counsels, Omoniyi Aruwayo, Monday Mawah and Joe Nwokedi, applied for their bail, which the AGF, through prosecuting counsel for the Federal Government, Laraban Magaji, asked the Federal High Court not to grant.
The defence team, however, told the judge that since the prosecution had already called three out of its four listed witnesses, there was no risk that the defendants would compromise the prosecution’s evidence or witnesses if released on bail.
The defence team also asked the judge to consider that the defendants spent about one month in the custody of the Nigerian Navy before being charged and arraigned, adding that the defendants had no past criminal record.
Meanwhile, the prosecuting counsel, Magaji, opposed the bail applications.
“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,” Magaji said.
He went further to state that the defendants committed the offence in May 2020 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.
Moreover, when the charges were read to them, the defendants pleaded not guilty.
In the course of the arguments that ensued between the two sides, Justice Faji, however, adjourned the case till July 28, 2020 for a ruling