The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday appealed to the Federal High Court in Lagos not to grant bail to 10 alleged pirates, who are being tried for hijacking a fishing vessel, named FV Hai Lu Feng II, belonging to Haina Fishing Company.
The defendants were arraigned on July 13 before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
The defendants are: Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi and Bright Agbedeyi.
Through their counsel, Omoniyi Aruwayo, Monday Mawah and Joe Nwokedi, they applied to be granted bail.
The defence team 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.
Further, the defence team urged the judge to consider that the defendants spent about one month in the custody of the Nigerian Navy before they were charged and arraigned in court.
They also told the court that the defendants had no previous criminal record.
But the prosecuting counsel for the federal government, Laraban Magaji, opposed the bail applications.
Following arguments between the two sides, Justice Faji adjourned till July 28 for a ruling.
In the charges, the prosecution 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 prosecutor 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.