Alleged fraud: Court adjourns Naira Marley’s trial to March 2024

A FEDERAL High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has adjourned the alleged fraud trial of Nigerian singer Azeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley) to March, 2024.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) via X on Friday, December 1.

The singer is standing trial on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy and credit card fraud brought against him by the EFCC.

According to the EFCC, one of the credit card details found on a device belonging to the singer had been flagged by Visa, a card payment platform.

“The 10th prosecution witness (PW10) on Thursday, November 30, told Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos, how Visa, a card payment platform, flagged one of the credit card details found on a device belonging to the singer, due to fraudulent transactions,” the statement said.

Led in evidence by the attorney for the prosecution, Bilikisu Buhari, an investigator with the EFCC, Dein Whyte (PW10), said: “As part of the findings from the investigation, forensic analysis revealed that malicious programmes that are being used to illegally obtain credit card information, which can be used for card non-present transactions, were found on the device that was recovered from the defendant upon his arrest.”

Whyte also revealed that tools used to confirm the authenticity, current status, and accuracy of credit card details and the location of the card’s issuer were found on the defendant’s device. 

The analysis also identified the webpage he had visited on his computer through the defendant’s browser history. Among the websites are ones where credit card numbers are exchanged unlawfully.

He went on to say that the defendant’s credentials, name, and email address were registered on both the phone and the laptop found on him.

“With respect to the card details recovered from the device of the defendant, investigations revealed that he also exchanged those details with other persons,” Whyte answered when the prosecution’s lawyer questioned him about the outcome of his investigation into the credit card information on the defendant’s device.”

He added that one of the cards was reportedly fraudulently used for a transaction by Visa.

According to him, the card details in the defendant’s device neither belonged to him nor were issued to him by any financial institution,” the statement added.

The EFCC said while under cross-examination by the defendant’s counsel, Olalekan Ojo, Whyte informed the court that a letter of investigation was written to Visa and confirmed that the card had been flagged for fraudulent transactions.

But he added that because the investigation was on the card and not the device used for the fraud, Visa did not connect the defendant’s device to the credit card fraud. 

Besides, he emphasized that Visa is a payment platform rather than a telecom provider.

 The judge, Nicholas Oweibo, adjourned the case to March 6 and 7, 2024, to continue the trial.

Marley is facing an 11-count charge, including conspiracy and credit card fraud, brought against him by the EFCC.

The ICIR reported that Marley and Lagos socialite Balogun Eletu, also known as Sam Larry, regained freedom on Friday, November 17, after spending over 40 days in Police custody.

Marley and Larry were arrested and detained upon their return to Nigeria in connection with the death of musician Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad.

Marley was arrested on October 3, 2023, while Larry was arrested on Thursday, September 29, 2023.

The Lagos state Police command public relations officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said they were released after meeting their bail conditions.

Hundeyin confirmed this to The ICIR in a text message, noting the two were released around 5 p.m. on Friday, November 17. 

    Their release came 12 days after being granted bail on the condition that they must provide N20 million bond with three sureties and submit their international passports.

    The court also ordered them to make weekly appearances at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

    The ICIR reports that following the arrest, the two were charged with accusing and harassing the deceased singer by the Lagos State Police Command and taken into custody.

    However, both Marley and Sam Larry sternly denied having a hand in the singer’s death.

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