By Uche Amunike
The alleged fraud trial of popular Nigerian singer Naira Marley, has resumed Tuesday as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) displayed before a Federal High Court in Lagos, a virtual projection of a compact disc with 51,933 pages showing the contents of his iPhone.
This was done through its second witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, a forensic analyst who was still showing pieces of evidence during the trial of the defendant who presently faces 11counts that border on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards and Fraud.
The EFCC referred the charges on May 14 2019 on Naira Marley who is the artiste of the popular song, ‘Am I a Yahoo boy’. Marley was eventually arraigned on May 20, 2019 before Justice Nicholas Oweibo where he pleaded not guilty. He was however granted bail in the sum of Two Million Naira with two sureties in like sum.
The trial of the case has since started and the second prosecution witness who started his testimony briefly before the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 continued his evidence on Wednesday.
The witness who resumed his testimony on Tuesday, completed his evidence after the virtual display.
Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, who is the prosecution counsel told the court at the last adjourned date that the prosecution only printed out hard copies of important portions of the exhibits which it considered key to its case, but explained that the full version of the total analysis was contained in a compact disc.
The printed copies of the exhibit was labelled ‘exhibit F’ while that of the CD containing full analysis was labelled ‘Exhibit F1’.
The prosecutor was allowed by the court, to display the CD in a projector in order to discharge its burden of proof as required by law.
On the last adjourned date, the witness submitted that different text messages and chats containing credit card details were exchanged between the defendant and a recipient identified as Yadd.
He also recalled portions of his earlier testimonies of October 26th showing visual spots of those testimonies on the screen of the projected CD, like credit card numbers, chats, incoming and outgoing short message services, which were analysed from the defendants iPhone, during the trial on Wednesday.
The witness particularly identified the message traffic in between the numbers +447 4263 43432 and +44754 806 1528.
He made it clear to the court that the CD contained a total of 51,933 pages of the analysis conducted on the defendant’s iphone.
The CD was displayed for about 45 minutes and when the prosecutor demanded the witness to confirm if Exhibits A and D were important elements of his analysis, he replied in the affirmative.
The Forensic Report Form is represented in Exhibit A, while the iPhone of the defendant is represented in Exhibit D.
By this indication, Oyedepo told the court that he had concluded the examination of the witness and had left whatever remained for his address.
The Defence Counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), during cross examination appealed to the court for variation of its order and also,to take custody of the iPhone of the defendant who has been in the custody of the prosecution, saying that the Federal High Court is well able of keeping the exhibit in its custody, in order to make it easy for the defence to apply for the exhibits if needed.
His request was noted by the court.
While taking questions from Ojo, the witness admitted to the court that his analysis was done within the compass of his forensic reports.
When asked to confirm if his analysis covered the possible number of people that had used the device, the witness replied that the number of persons was not ascertained.
When also asked if, as an experienced operative, he was aware of the possibility of a person other than the owner of the phone to have access to the use of it, he replied that it will be possible where the owner grants access.
He was also asked who supplied him with the password to the iPhone and he replied that the defendant presented the password to the investigative operatives who also transmitted it to him for his analysis, saying that he only had knowledge of the period the iPhone was brought to him for forensics and not when it was taken from the defendant.
He was also asked to confirm the number on the iPhone and he told the court that the registered number on the phone is iCloud +447 4263 43432.
When the defence counsel reminded the witness that he already told the court during examination that the telephone number of the defendant was 07426343732, the witness replied that anything could be inserted into a device.
He was asked to confirm if there is a difference between the owner and user of a device and he answered: ‘the names on the phone can be changed depending on what the owner chooses to use’.
The defence asked the witness to display to the court, from the two pages of his analysis summary where he showed that there was a change of names in the device, to which he replied that although it was not captured, the contents of the report also shows the contents of the device as recovered therein.
Trial was adjourned to November 30, December 13 and December 14 by Justice Oweibo.
The EFCC submitted that the defendant committed the offence on different dates between November 26, 2018 and December 11, 2018 including May 10, 2019 and that Naira Marley and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank ATM cards to defraud their victims.
The Commission alleged that the defendant used a bank credit card issued to another person so as to obtain fraudulent financial gains and that the defendant possessed counterfeit credit cards belonging to different people with the sole intention of defrauding 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.