Nigerian Court Sentences 10 Pirates to 12 Years in Prison

Nigerian forces capture suspected pirates aboard the Hailufeng 11, May 16, 2020 (CRESMAO)

Published Jul 23, 2021 9:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

A court in Lagos, Nigeria has sentenced 10 pirates to prison for the kidnapping of the crew of the fishing vessel Hailufeng II last year.

The Chinese fishing trawler Hailufeng 11 was captured by pirates on May 14, 2020 within the Ivorian EEZ. She had 18 crewmembers aboard, including  eight Chinese nationals, seven Ghanaians and three Ivorians.

Multiple Gulf of Guinea coastal states participated in tracking the vessel using mechanisms set up under the Yaoundé Architecture for Maritime Security. In a rare victory, the Nigerian Navy was able to interdict the Hailufeng 11 at a position about 140 nautical miles south of Lagos, arriving about two days after the hijacking.

The Nigerian patrol vessel NNS Nguru conducted the intercept, and when it approached, the pirates refused to stop. The Nigerian Navy’s Special Boat Service conducted an opposed boarding while underway at about nine knots. The rescue was successful and all 18 hostages were recovered. 10 pirates were arrested and the vessel was safely escorted into Lagos.

An arrest and trial for piracy is a rare development in West Africa, the maritime kidnapping capital of the world. The 12-year prison sentence sends a new message to Nigerian pirate action groups, which have long operated with impunity from bases in the lightly-governed, economically underdeveloped Niver River Delta.

In addition to their prison sentences, the convicts will have to pay $600 per count for three counts of piracy each. They are expected to appeal their convictions.