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Alleged Cyber Fraud: Court Rejects Move To Examine Naira Marley’s iPhone

Shola Soyele  
Updated February 17, 2022
Naira Marley Gets N2m Bail
A file photo of Naira Marley.

 

The Federal High Court Sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on Thursday overruled an application seeking to examine the iPhone SIM slot of Azeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley.

He is facing an 11-count charge of conspiracy, possession of counterfeit cards and fraud before Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

The court listened to the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Mr Anosike Augustine, a mobile forensic expert with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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The defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) had asked the witness if he recalled testifying that his gadgets could capture and retrieve deleted information.

When the witness answered in the affirmative, Ojo asked if he had indicated in his Exhibit F or F1 that any information was deleted and retrieved.

In response, the witness told the court that the content of his report indicated that items recovered also included deleted information.

When the defence counsel redirected the witness to specifically answer the question, he told the court that for instance, in the column tagged messages, it was stated that two pieces of information were deleted but recovered.

He said that in the web/history column, it was indicated that about 688 information were deleted but recovered, while another web column indicated that 120 items were deleted but recovered.

Referring to Pages 1958, of Exhibit F1, the witness told the court that it indicated that an incoming text was deleted, adding that the message ID read – [email protected]

He told the court that the deleted and recovered items showed that the gadgets was able to recover even deleted information.

Defence counsel then asked the witness if the defendant’s iPhone had a SIM card when he worked on it.

In response, the witness told the court that he did not open the phone of the defendant, but only ran the extraction and emerged with the result.

When asked if he was able to detect that the iPhone was a used phone before it was sent to him for analysis, the witness replied that he was not in a position to do so.

When asked when the first information extracted was done, the witness said that for instance under contact, the first index was created on Sept. 2, 2018, and modified on Dec. 21, 2018, as recorded in the device.

Defence counsel then called for the iPhone of the defendant and applied to the court for the witness to be allowed to open the SIM slot in order to determine whether a SIM card was present.

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo Hobart raised objections to the application on grounds that the witness had already testified on record that he did not open the phone during analysis.

He argued that having not done so during analysis, the witness should not be made to do so during trial.

The defence counsel countered by explaining to the court that what he sought to demonstrate was whether the SIM card was inside the iPhone of the defendant, and not to remove or tamper with it.

He told the court that he also sought to demonstrate that the said phone number of the defendant, which ended in 32, was in use at the moment, whereas the same phone was in the custody of the court

After arguments and counter-arguments, the court upheld the argument of the prosecution that opening the SIM slot was not the proper thing to do.

The judge then adjourned the case until April 6, for the continuation of trial.

According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates between Nov. 26, 2018, and Dec. 11, 2018, as well as on May 10, 2019.

The commission alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank automated teller machine cards to defraud their victims.

It 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 the intent to defraud.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33(9) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015

Fashola, who sang the popular song: “Am I a Yahoo Boy”, was arraigned on May 20, 2019, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, but he pleaded not guilty.

The court granted him bail in the sum of two million naira with two sureties in like sum.