3 January 2019

Nigeria: Exclusive - UK Police Reveal Identities of Nigerians Who Sneaked Aboard Ship From Lagos

Photo: The Guardian Nigeria
Lagos port (file photo).

Four men arrested by the police in the United Kingdom after they sneaked aboard a ship which set off from Lagos, Nigeria, and allegedly threatened the crew are now facing trial, the UK police have told PREMIUM TIMES.

In an exclusive email to this newspaper on Thursday morning, the Essex police disclosed the names of the suspects as Samuel Jolumi, 26; Ishola Sunday, 27; Toheeb Popoola, 26; and Joberto McGee, 20. Apart from confirming that they are all men, the police did not disclose their names when they were arrested late December.

The police refused to confirm the nationalities of the suspects when questioned by this newspaper.

"We don't confirm nationalities," said a press officer, Matthew Stanton, for the Essex Police.

They were taken to custody on December 21 after 25 members of the British Navy's Special Boat Service were deployed that day to regain the control of the ship.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was said to have sanctioned the operation of the SBS, an elite naval unit in the UK, and the special commandos were flown on a helicopter to the vessel off the coast of Kent near the Thames Estuary.

The ship left Lagos on December 10 and the suspects were found when they allegedly threatened to harm the crew, according to the owner of 71,000-tonne ship Grande Tema, Napoli-based Grimaldi Lines.

They are now being prosecuted for affray, the Essex Police told PREMIUM TIMES. "They appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday, December 24,' said the police, adding that they were remanded in custody and the case was adjourned until January 18 at Southend Magistrates' Court.

In the UK, Affray is a common law offence involving unlawful fighting, violence or a display of force by one person or a group of persons to the terror of others. The maximum penalty for the offence is five years (level 6) imprisonment.

To ensure the suspects are convicted, the police would have to prove the suspects used force or display violence aboard the ship and that in that circumstance force or violence was unlawful and that that action could 'terrify' others.

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