Lack of forensic analyst blocks Naira Marley trial

The absence of prosecution witness Augustine Anosike on Tuesday blocked the ongoing trial of Nigerian singer Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, in a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Anosike, a forensic analyst, testifies as the second prosecution witness in the case.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is pursuing the defendant for charges close to cybercrime. Fashola was arrested on May 14, 2019.

The musician, singer of ‘Am I a yahoo boy’, was therefore arrested on May 20, 2019 before judge Nicholas Oweibo, but he pleaded not guilty.

The court therefore granted him a bond in the amount of 2 million naira with two bonds of an equivalent amount.

The trial had since started in the case and the second prosecution witness who concluded her examination-in-chief on October 27 was scheduled to undergo cross-examination on Tuesday.

When the case was called, Rotimi Oyedepo announced an appearance for the prosecution, while Olalekan Ojo, SAN, appeared for the accused.

Oyedepo informed the court that his witness was inevitably absent for what he called “compassionate grounds”

He added that the witness is currently in his village and urged the court to graciously grant an adjournment to December 14.

In response, the defense lawyer told the court that “it was rather regrettable that the case could not proceed today, the prosecution should have given sufficient notice of the witness’s absence”.

Ojo said there was nothing he could do under the circumstances, but urged the prosecution to ensure adequate information reaches him sooner under similar circumstances.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor quickly clarified that he “had only obtained information on the absence of the witness until around 9:30 am while he was still in the parking lot of the court this morning”.

He noted that it is not in the character of the prosecution to waste the court’s time, adding that the witness will be present at the next adjournment date.

Following the agreement of the parties, the court adjourned the case until February 16 and 17, 2021, for the continuation of the trial.

The court canceled the previous date of December 14 on the grounds that the date is no longer available to the court, due to the activities of the new legal year.

According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offenses on different dates between November 26, 2018 and December 11, 2018, as well as May 10, 2019.

The commission alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use various Access Bank ATM cards to defraud their victims.

He alleges that the defendant used a bank credit card issued to another person, for the purpose of obtaining fraudulent financial gains.

The EFCC also said that the defendant possessed counterfeit credit cards belonging to different people, with the intention of defrauding, which amounted to theft.

The alleged offenses contravene the provisions of Articles 1, 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33 (9) of the Cybercrime Prevention (Prohibition) Act 2015.

(NOPE)

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