The 10 pirates newly arrested by the Nigeria Navy after storming the Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire will be prosecuted under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, signed into law in June last year, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh stated this in Lagos, shortly after the pirates were paraded and handed over to NIMASA, by the Navy.
Photograph of the arrested pirates during their parade at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Apapa, Lagos.
The 10 pirates had on May 15 attacked and boarded the Chinese vessel, off Côte d’Ivoire and directed it towards Nigerian waters, before they were intercepted and arrested by the Nigerian Navy, which dispatched a ship to intercept the vessel after it was alerted.
“The prosecution of these pirates would be the first trial of bandits arrested in international waters under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act signed into law in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari”, Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Head of Legal Services, Mr. Victor Egejuru stated, pointing out that the law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa, to have distinct antipiracy legislation.
The NIMASA Boss attributed the successful operation that led to the arrest of the pirates and rescue of the ship and its crew to collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. He said the Agency will continue to work with relevant security agencies in order to achieve its goal of eradicating piracy and all forms of illegality on the Nigerian waters.
“We have just witnessed the handover of pirates. This is as a result of the robust collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. There has been a lot of synergy between NIMASA and the Navy with regard to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act.
“I also want to seize the opportunity to thank Mr. President for signing the anti-piracy law, which would facilitate sufficient prosecution of these pirates”, the Director-General stated, assuring that with the anti-piracy law, there was ample legal framework to prosecute pirates and other perpetrators of maritime offences in the country to bring the menace to the barest minimum.
Speaking earlier, the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Commodore Ibrahim Shettima, who gave details of the naval operation, said the vessel had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians, and Ivorians.
Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh
“On interception of the vessel about 140nm south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates had refused to comply with the orders of the Navy ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel. All ship crew were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were also arrested”, Shettima said
He stressed the need for increased regional cooperation and information sharing, disclosing that the arrest of the pirates was due to a tip-off by the Beninoise Navy.
Shettima also warned criminal elements to stay away from Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, saying the Navy has the capability to deal with such threats.
Meanwhile, Jamoh has said the current management of NIMASA will focus on three main areas, namely, Maritime Security, Safety, and Shipping Development, in pursuit of a robust maritime domain for the country.