Ten sentenced in Nigeria over fishing vessel hijacking

A federal court in Lagos, Nigeria, has found ten individuals guilty of hijacking a foreign-flagged fishing vessel and imposed a 12-year prison sentence on each of the defendants.

The accused had seized the Chinese-registered Hailufang II while its 18-strong crew were fishing in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Cote d’Ivoire on May 15, 2020.

Later on that same date, the Nigerian Navy despatched a patrol boat with armed sailors on board to intercept the hijacked fishing vessel 140 nautical miles off Lagos. All ten suspects were later taken into custody and the 18 hostages were freed without injury.

Each defendant was also made to pay the equivalent of US$608 in connection with the hijacking, which presiding Federal High Court Justice Ayokunle Faji said was “an embarassment to the nation.”

The defence counsel has told local media that the accused intend to appeal the decision.

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