BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos
The Federal Government closed its case before the Federal High Court in Lagos against 10 sailors accused of hijacking a fishing vessel on the high seas.
The sailors: Frank Abaka, Jude Ebaragha, Shina Alolo, Joshua Iwiki, David Akinseye, Ahmed Toyin, Shobajo Saheed, Adekole Philip, Matthew Masi, and Bright Agbedeyi are facing a 13-count criminal charge before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
The government’s counsel, Laraban Magaji, had told the court that suspected pirates committed the offence last May on international waters off Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire.
Magaji claimed that the defendants violated Section 3 of Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, and were liable to punishment under Section 2 of the same Act.
The defendant, however, all pleaded not guilty, following which trial commenced and the prosecution called its first three witnesses.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Magaji called the government’s 4th witness, Danladi Aliyu, a Chief Superintendent of Police.
Following Aliyu’s testimony and discharge from the witness box, the prosecutor told the judge that the government was satisfied with its evidence and exhibits against the defendants.
Responding, defence counsel Niyi Aruwayo and Anjorin Ademola suggested that they intended to file a ‘no-case’ submission, because, according to them, the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
But Justice Faji hinted that a prima facie case may have been made against the defendants, so, a no-case submission might be a waste of the “precious judicial time of the court.”
Following this hint, the defence counsel made a U-turn and agreed that the defendants would enter a defence.
Justice Faji then adjourned till February 10 for defence to open their case.