Alleged Vessel Hijack: Court Fixes July 28 For Ruling In Bail Application Filed 10 Men

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday, fixed July 28, for ruling in  a bail application filed on behalf of 10 men charged with alleged hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel on high sea.

The vessel, FV Hai Lu Feng II, is said to belong to one Haina Fishing Company.

The defendants are: Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.

They are being prosecuted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

They were arraigned on July 13 before Justice Ayokunle Faji, by the prosecutor, Mr Magaji Labaran, on three counts bordering on acts of piracy.

They had each pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The court had ordered their remand in custody of the Navy and had adjourned the case until July 20 for hearing of their bail.

On Monday, the defendant’s bail application was heard by the court as filed by defence counsel, Messrs Omoniyi Aruwayo, Joe Nwokedi and Monday Mawah.

Strict social distancing rules were adopted by the court.

The applications were brought pursuant to sections 158, 159, 162, 163, 164,165, and 167 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, as wella s sections 35(4),36 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

Defence argued that since investigations in the case had been concluded, the defendants could not tamper with the evidences, adding that they were presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Defence also argued that the alleged offences against the defendants were bailable and urged the court to admit them to bail, adding that they had no criminal records.

In opposition, the prosecutor, Mr Kehinde Bode-Ayeni, in adopting his counter-affidavit and a written address, urged the court to refuse the bail applicationsnby defence.

He urged the court to rather grant the case an accelerated hearing.

After listening to parties, Justice Faji adjourned the case until July 28, for ruling.

In the charge, the prosecution alleged that te defendants committed the offence in May, on the international water at Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

They were alleged to have committed an illegal act of violence against the crew on board FV Hai Lu Feng II, by putting them in fear in order to take control of the vessel.

They prosecution alleged that the defendants were armed with dangerous weapons.

He said that the offence contravenes the provisions of  sections 3, 10 and 12 of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offence Act 2019

The Act provides for a term of a 15 years imprisonment, if found guilty.