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Why Judge Was Forced To Adjourn Trial Of Nigerian Singer, Naira Marley For Alleged Cybercrime

November 30, 2021

Justice Nicholas Oweibo on Tuesday fixed the date following the absence of an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, which stalled the resumption of Marley's trial for alleged cybercrime.

The trial of a popular musician, Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley has been adjourned till February 16, 2022, by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo on Tuesday fixed the date following the absence of an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, which stalled the resumption of Marley's trial for alleged cybercrime.


Anosike, a forensic analyst, is testifying as a second prosecution witness in the case.
The EFCC in October had displayed before a Federal High Court in Lagos, a virtual projection of a Compact Disc with 51,933 pages analysis of the iPhone of popular Nigerian singer, Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley.
The EFCC projected the virtual evidence through its second witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, a forensic analyst.
Anosike was still leading pieces of evidence in the trial of the defendant.
Naira Marley is facing 11 counts bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards, and fraud.
The Nigerian singer was charged by the anti-graft agency on May 14, 2019.
He was, however, consequently, arraigned on May 20, 2019, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo.
Naira Marley had pleaded not guilty to all the charges levelled against him.
He was thereafter granted bail accordingly in the sum of two million naira, with two sureties in like sum.
The trial had since commenced in the case and the second prosecution witness who began his testimony shortly before the lockdown in 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, continued his evidence on Wednesday.
The witness, who resumed his testimony on Tuesday, also concluded his evidence after the virtual display.
The prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had told the court during the last sitting that the prosecution only printed out hard copies of relevant portions of the exhibit, which is considered key to its case.
He had informed the court that a full version of the total analysis was contained in a compact disc.
The printed copies of the exhibit are, however, labelled ‘Exhibit F’ while the CD containing full analysis is ‘Exhibit F1’.
Punch reports that the court had granted the prosecution team leave to display the CD on a projector, to discharge its burden of proof as required by law.
Also on the last adjourned date, the witness had narrated how different text messages and chats containing credit card details, were exchanged between Naira Marley and another recipient identified as Yadd.
At the resumption of the trial on Wednesday, the witness reiterated portions of his earlier testimonies of October 26.
He also indicated the visual spots of those testimonies, on the screen of the projected CD.
For instance, the witness showed visual displays of the credit card numbers, chats, as well as incoming and outgoing short message services, which were analysed from the defendant’s iPhone.
The witness typically identified the “message trafficking” between the numbers +447426343432 and +447548061528.
On the whole, he told the court that the CD contained a total of 51,933 pages of the analysis conducted on the defendant device.
After the CD was displayed for about 45 minutes, the prosecutor then asked the witness to confirm if exhibits A and D, were vital elements of his analysis, and he replied in the affirmative.
But the defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), during a cross-examination, first sought leave of court to apply for a variation of its order and prayed the court to take custody of the iPhone of the defendant who had been in the custody of the prosecution.
He stated that the Federal High Court is well capable of keeping the exhibits in its custody, adding that it would also create ease for the defence to apply for the exhibits if needed.
The court, therefore, noted the requests.
The defence asked, “As an experienced operative, are you aware that it is possible for a person other than the owner of a phone to have access to the use of that phone?”
The witness replied, “That will only be possible where the owner grants access.”
When the witness was asked who supplied him with the password to the iPhone, he told the court that the defendant provided the password to the investigating operatives who consequently transmitted the same to him for his analysis.
The EFCC had alleged that Naira Marley and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank ATM cards to defraud their victims.
It also alleged that the defendant used a bank credit card issued to another person, in a bid to obtain fraudulent financial gains.
The EFCC also said that the defendant possessed counterfeit credit cards belonging to different people, with intent to defraud which amounted to theft. The alleged offence contravenes the provisions of sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33(9) of Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015.