Owing to lack of fuel to transport the eight suspected Nigerian pirates, the Adjabeng Magistrate Court in Accra yesterday had to adjourn hearing of the case to February 19, 2014.
Consequently, the court, presided over Ms. Efua Sackey, was unable to proceed with the trial as officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) failed to present the suspects before the court.
Earlier, the trial judge had said she had been informed about the challenges in transporting the suspects to the court for trial.
The accused persons, Molih Williams, Molih Klinsman, Peggy Aki, Ebiyaibo Amos, David Jacobs, Apetimiyi Onyinie, Pinano Saniyo and Picolo John were recently remanded into police custody by the court.
They were arrested by the Eastern Naval Command of the Ghana Navy in Tema. They allegedly hijacked M.T. Mariam marine oil tanker in Nigeria and were arrested in Ghanaian territorial waters
They are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit crime and piracy.
Lawyer Accuses Police
Counsel for the pirates has accused officials of the Ghana Police Service of denying him access to his clients.
According to Uche Nwosu, the last time he saw his clients was at the court during the last adjourned date, saying that gaining access to the accused persons had been difficult.
The visibly worried counsel further told the court that the fundamental human rights of the accused persons had been grossly violated without any reason.
Mr. Nwosu was emphatic that the police and the BNI ought to respect the human rights of the accused persons.
He accordingly prayed for an order to compel the police to grant him access to his clients.
Sergeant Victor Dosoo, who represented Chief Inspector Fuseni, however disagreed, indicating that the lawyer was aware of the procedures and processes to go through in order to have access to his clients.
Though the accused persons were not brought to court, he maintained that Mr. Nwosu ought to formally write to the BNI and the police before he would be granted access to them.
It was the case of the prosecution led by Chief Inspector Fuseni that the accused persons who are all unemployed, on January 17, 2015 at Tema, near Accra, by force of arms, seized the said commercial marine vessel (tanker) flying the flag of Nigeria under the charge of one captain Chris Ohuoha.
The pleas of the accused persons have not been taken.
They are to reappear on February 19, 2015.
According to Chief Inspector Fuseni, the complainant in the case is the Chief Executive Officer of MAXWEIR Limited, a company operating M.T. Miriam, whilst the accused persons are all from Nigeria.
He said on January 17, 2015, the vessel was loaded with 1,500 metric tonnes of Low Petroleum Fuel Oil (LPFO) worth $1.5 million, travelling from Lagos in Nigeria to Lome, Togo, when the accused persons, with three AK 47 assault rifles, one pump action gun and a K2 rifle, attacked the nine witnesses on board the vessel and with force, stole the cargo onto another vessel and sped off.
Chief Inspector Fuseni said the crew members were taken hostage and subjected to various degrees of inhumane treatment, including assault with the butts of the weapons, restricting their movements and preventing them from communicating to themselves.
They were later arrested by the Ghana navy and the weapons seized and retained for evidential purposes.
By: Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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