26th October, 2021
By Sandra Umeh
Mr Augustine Anosike, a witness of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has narrated how 2,410 short messages were extracted and analysed from the iPhone belonging to Nigerian musician Azeez Fashola, (aka Naira Marley) who is undergoing trial on allegations bordering on cyber crime.
Anosike told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday that messages and credit card numbers were extracted from the phone of Naira Marley who is being prosecuted on 11-count charge of cyber fraud by EFCC.
The anti-graft agency had on May 14, 2019, preferred charge against the defendant, bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards and fraud.
Fashola, who sang the popular song: “Am I a Yahoo Boy”, was consequently, arraigned on May 20, 2019 before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, but he pleaded not guilty.
The court had granted him bail in the sum of two million naira, with two sureties in like sum.
Trial had since began and the second prosecution witness who began his testimony shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, continued his evidence on Tuesday.
Led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, who examined him on exhibit F, the witness first confirmed to the court that the said exhibit F was a conclusion of his analysis of the iPhone of the defendant.
He told the court that the device analysed is an iPhone X version 10.6, Model ‘A’ 1901, with number 07427343432 and an email: [email protected]
The witness also gave the IMEL number of the phone as: 35304509527532 and the SIM ICCID number as 8923420035948359826.
According to him, the apple iPhone is a sophisticated device capable of storing a large volume of information, adding that it is the sim card that basically identifies users of applications such as WhatsApp.
He, however, told the court that so far as a number has already been registered with a particular WhatsApp account, it matters less if such user leaves the country.
The witness noted that there were cases where a WhatsApp application could still be used even though the registered sim card was not inserted in the phone, adding that the chatting app used in the analysed device was WhatsApp.
He told the court that from the iPhone analysed, 977 Short Message Service (SMS) and 1,433 chat messages, were discovered adding that there were also seven pending status update messages.
The witness told the court that on Nov. 26, 2018, there was an outgoing message registered at about 3.32 p.m. with a credit card number 5264711020433662.
He said that this message was sent to one Yadd.
According to him, on Dec. 11, 2018, there was an incoming message to the defendant’s device which read: “Youre One Time Passcode (OTP) to verify your mobile number is 248716; wasn’t you, please call us on 63450808500″
He said that on the same day, it was discovered that another message was sent at 5.06pm by one Hiya Bayi, to a recipient with the name Raze, adding that the content of the text was another credit card number 42658840359132.
He gave the numbers of the sender and recipients as +447426343432 and +447365280441 respectively.
The witness told the court that the incoming message reflected at 6.18 pm. showed “Not recognised”
According to him, other messages received on same date include: “due to try in 20 minutes,”
He told the court that on Dec. 12, 2018 at 10.16 p.m, there was an incoming message which read “Tried and it was unsuccessful; sure you are not rinsing it out then giving it to me to try,”
The witness also read out a plethora of other credit card numbers sent on different dates and time, as well as OTP codes sent.
After his testimony, the prosecutor then informed the court that all the analysed texts were fully contained in a Compact Disc (CD) but that the prosecution had only printed out those portions which were material to its case.
He then sought for the opinion of the court and defence counsel, if the prosecution was at liberty to bring a projector for the purpose of playing the CD in the open court, in order to fully discharge its burden.
The application was allowed by the court and also not opposed by defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, SAN.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo consequently adjourned the case until Oct. 27, for projection of the CD.
The anti-graft agency said the offence on different dates between Nov. 26, 2018 and Dec.11, 2018, as well as May 10, 2019.
The commission alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank ATM 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 intent to defraud which amounted to theft.
The alleged offence contravened the provisions of Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33(9) of Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015. (NAN)