A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has convicted three of the nine accused persons who on March 21 hijacked an Equatorial Guinea flagged vessel, MV ELOBEY VI, off Equatorial Guinea coast.
Navy Director of Information, Suleman Dahun, who made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said Justice Ishaq Sani gave the judgement on Monday.
Dahun said the judge summarily convicted Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar and Ghane Gordon on Counts 1 and 2.
He said that the three were convicted under the new Anti-Piracy Act 2019 and ordered to pay a fine of N10 Million each on each of the counts.
Dahun said during the hearing, the prosecution filed an amended charge dated August 7.
“The bail application was not granted because the accused persons may not make themselves available to stand trial if granted bail. Consequently, the court arraigned the accused persons on the amended charges.
“During the proceedings, Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar and Ghane Gordon pleaded guilty to counts 1 and 2 and not guilty to counts 3 to 5 while the remaining six accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
“Accordingly, the prosecutor applied to the court to withdraw the charges on which the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
“The prayer was granted and the accused persons were discharged on counts 3 – 5,” he said.
Dahun recalled that the Nigerian Navy arrested Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar, Ghane Gordon, Hassan Hakeem, Gregory Smith, Ofem Uket, John Mark, Chidi Amadi and Eze Amadi who were suspected to be members of the kidnapping syndicate that hijacked the vessel.
He said that it was reported that the kidnappers demanded for a two million dollars ransom out of which 200,000 dollars ransom was eventually paid.
Dahun said after their arrest by the Nigerian Navy, the suspects were arraigned before the FHC, Port Harcourt on July 23 on a 7 count charge to which all the accused persons pleaded not guilty.
“As a result, the counsel to the accused persons made an application for bail pending conclusion of the trial. Accordingly, the matter was adjourned to August 10, 11 and 12 for ruling on the bail application and commencement of the trial,” he said.