No fuel to convey pirates to court

??????????The police failed to arraign before court yesterday, the eight Nigerian pirates arrested in January for allegedly hijacking a Nigerian oil vessel, due to unavail-ability of fuel for the vehicle to convey them.

The case, being tried by the Accra Central Magistrate Court, was stood down for two hours because the prosecutor was not in court when it was called.

After the two hours and the prosecutor not shown up, a Police Sergeant, Victor Dosu, informed the court of the difficulty with transporting the accused to the court.

Reacting to the news, Mr Nwosu Uche, protested over the treatment of his clients, saying he had been denied the opportunity to communicate with them.

Mr. Uche said his efforts to even locate the cells in which the accused were being kept had proved futile.

He raised issues of abuse of due process and infringement of the rights of the accused, pointing to Articles 19, 12 and 15 of the 1992 Constitution, to buttress his point.

He said the inhuman treatment meted out to his clients defied the provisions of the Criminal Law and therefore, unjustifiable.

“An accused person is deemed innocent until proven guilty. And I cannot fathom the logic in chaining (them) in shackles, their bodies exposed and faces covered,” he complained.

Sergeant Dosu, who held brief for the prosecutor, responded that the gravity of the offence required that anybody, including lawyers, seeking to interact with them did so, formally.

The presiding judge, Mrs. Efua Sackey, took a strong exception to the development, and warned that she would make a ruling if the prosecutor failed to appear before the court at the next sitting.

Mrs. Sackey described the conduct of the prosecutor as “unconstitutional and unacceptable”.

The pirates were arrested on Saturday, January 19, in Ghanaian territorial waters, 26 nautical miles South-East of the Tema waters, after hijacking the Nigerian vessel, MV. Mariam, carrying about 1,500 tonnes of crude oil, en route to Togo.

They are Molih Williams, 32, Peggy Aki 32, Ebi Yaibo Amos, 32, Molih Klinsman, 31, David Jacob, 30, Ayetimiyi Oyinle, 29, Pianno Saniyo, 26 and Picolo John.

Five of them were captured in the engine room, and the three others, elsewhere on the vessel.

Items found on them included AK-47 assault rifles, a pump action gun, ten loaded magazines, 1,270 US dollars and 43,850 Naira cash.

The rest were 18 mobile phones, a digital camera, a hair clipper, three VHF radio sets, seven wrist watches and personal belongings.

Their arrest followed a tip-off of a Ghana Navy ship from the Eastern Naval Command, on patrol, that a ship owner had reported the hijacking of his ship carrying oil.

The Naval Ship proceeded to the location, caught up with the vessel and arrested the pirates at about 3 p.m.

The case was adjourned to February 19.

By Malik Sullemana

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