…Hails Conviction of 10 Pirates for 48 Years
The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh has condemned in very strong terms the kidnap of eight Nigerians, five of them members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) in Rivers State.
Jamoh who expressed sadness over the incident, regretted that this is happening when the Nigerian maritime industry is witnessing tremendous gains in the nation’s maritime security sphere and are getting commended for the progress both locally and internationally.
His words: “I have spoken with the President-General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju to express the agency’s displeasure over the incident and unequivocal condemnation of this unpalatable development, especially when the industry is beginning to witness tremendous gains in our maritime security sphere and are getting commended for the progress both locally and internationally. I also assured him of the Agency’s support during this challenging period till the abducted maritime workers are returned safely to their families and the industry.
“The MWUN President who said his team is moving to the vicinity of the incident by this weekend, welcomed our show of solidarity and support as part of the maritime family. Apart from condemning this situation, NIMASA is also following the trend of the events and our deep blue assets, especially the C4i and intelligence centres are monitoring and we shall keep the public apprised of progress.”
A statement issued in Lagos and signed by NIMASA Assistant Director, Public Relations, Mr. Edward Osagie quoted Jamoh saying that the agency was not unmindful of sea pirates’ presence and activities of other marine criminals who are running away from the intense heat in the nation’s territorial waters, courtesy of the enforcement of the Deep Blue Project.
According to the statement which made available to Maritime Bits at the weekend Jamoh noted that such lawless persons would have started relocating to the low rivers to continue their criminal enterprise.
He vowed that the personnel of the deep blue project would ensure that all waters of the coastal states are covered in their daily patrol to nip in the bud any act of criminality in the waterways and creeks.
The NIMASA helmsman also assured that the Special Maritime Intelligence Unit of deep blue project will up its ante in engaging the youths at the creeks through the use of the carrot and stick policy of the Agency to wean them away from marine-related atrocities and crimes.
He stated that the agency will continue to explore its partnerships with the governors of the littoral state to continue to sensitize the youths on the non-profitability of marine crime as well as ensuring that they are meaningfully engaged to contribute their quota to the development of the nation.
The eight persons were traveling to Port Harcourt from Kula area in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area before the gunmen struck at Kula-Abonnema waterway.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting has sentenced 10 pirates to a total of 48 years each in prison under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences, SPOMO ACT, for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, in May 2020. Justice Ayokunle Faji convicted the defendants 12 years each on all four counts as charged. 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 N10 million.
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 (AGF) for allegedly hijacking the 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, following which trial commenced. Delivering his judgment 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.
Reacting to the landmark judgement, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that history has been made adding that a huge lacuna has been filled in the battle against maritime crimes in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“Today history has been made. Our industry has made a huge leap in the battle to rid our maritime domain of illegalities. We are not going to rest on our oars as we now have a tested legal instrument like the SPOMO ACT which is a major tool in Nigeria’s quest to end Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea”
“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.”
Prosecution counsel, Mr. Magaji said they violated Section 3 of SPOMO Act, 2019 punishable under Section 2 of the same Act.
The SPOMO ACT was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 which was a major stride in Nigeria’s quest in ensuring prosecution of criminals in the Nigerian maritime domain.