Eyewitness reporter with Agency report
The Danish government has made a U-turn over the prosecution of the four suspected pirates arrested in the Gulf of Guinea in November 2021.
The lawyers of the suspected pirates detained on a Danish navy vessel since November after a shootout off Nigeria waters told reporters on Thursday that their clients will not face prosecution in Denmark over allegedly attacking Danish soldiers.
“The prosecutor has decided not to prosecute my client and he will be released shortly”, lawyer Niels Anker Rasmussen told AFP.
Two more lawyers representing the other two suspects told Danish media the case against their clients had also been dropped, and they too would be released.
The prosecution could have caused a legal headache as the Scandinavian country has to date never transferred piracy suspects to its territory and has no extradition agreement with the countries along the Gulf of Guinea coast.
Rasmussen said the decision not to prosecute was also likely over fears that, after any prosecution, his client “could not be sent back home due to Denmark’s obligations” under international conventions, and that “this might inspire others” to follow suit.
The three suspects were among the four presumed pirates of unknown nationality arrested in the Gulf of Guinea in late November after an exchange of fire with a Danish navy ship, the Esbern Snare.
The three, who will not be prosecuted, have been held on that ship, while a fourth who was injured in the shootout, has ever since been in hospital in Ghana where his gravely injured leg was amputated.
It was not immediately clear whether charges would also be dropped against the fourth suspect.
The incident occurred on November 24 when the crew of the Esbern Snare, which was patrolling international waters in the area, attempted to board a pirate vessel.
Danish prosecutors accused the pirates of firing the first shot and sought to press charges over them attacking Danish soldiers, accusations they have denied.
Four more suspected pirates were killed in the firefight and a fifth fell overboard, the Danish authorities said.
The Gulf of Guinea, which stretches 5,700 kilometers (3,500 miles) from Senegal to Angola, is a troubled area for shipping companies, with 195 attacks on ships recorded in 2020 alone.
Of the 135 hostage-takings at sea that year, 130 occurred in the region, the International Maritime Office has said.
Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison
A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.
As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.
“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.
Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.
Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.
Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.
Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.
Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo
” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.
The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.
“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.
“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.
“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.
“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.
Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.
“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”
We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.
“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.
The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.
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