The trial of music artiste, Azeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley continued on Friday before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi in Lagos State, South-West Nigeria.
The trial had an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Dein Whyte as a prosecuting witness continuing his evidence even as the court dismissed the defendant’s objection to the forensic evidence earlier presented by the witness.
Fashola is standing trial on an 11-count charge bordering on credit card fraud. At the last sitting on June 9, 2022, the defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo had objected to the witness’s opinion on the forensic evidence linking the defendant to credit card fraud. He had argued that only the court could make pronouncements on the defendant’s culpability, not an investigator.
At the resumed trial on Friday, Justice Oweibo delivered a short ruling in which he dismissed the defence’s objection. He said it is the duty of the law enforcement agency or Police to charge any person to court to investigate if the defendant committed the crime or not.
He explained that the Investigator must be able to link the defendant to the commission of the crime. The prosecutor must have made up his mind as to the involvement of the defendant before bringing the case to court.
Continuing his evidence, Whyte, who was led by the EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that findings from his investigation clearly established that the defendant through his phone had in his possession credit card details that did not belong to him and that he shared the credit card information with another person which was discovered that a fraud report had been generated from the same credit card stating that it had been used fraudulently.
He also explained that the investigation revealed that the defendant had on his laptop electronic tools that are specifically used for accessing compromised credit cards information as well as other electronic tools that are used to disguise both the identity and location of anybody accessing compromised credit cards in real time on the internet.
Explaining the role of his team before Exhibit E forensic analysis was produced, the witness said it was procedural in investigation for investigators to make a request to the Digital Forensic and Crime Laboratory Services Department to carry out forensic analysis of the content of recovered digital device of evidential value to a case.
In analysing the forensics report, the witness revealed that the defendant had running on his computer, a VPN called IP Varnish, (a tool used to disguise identity and location of the user.
According to him, in relation to the contents found on the NOTES, a software application on the devices of the defendant, wherein counterfeit card number was found alongside the details of the cardholder and an IP address, suggesting that the only reason the possessor of such information will need an IP address attached to it would be to satisfy the location specifics for consumption of transaction for merchants who require cards to be used only within countries and locations recognised by them.
Counsel to the defendant, Olalekan Ojo objected to the evidence of the prosecution witness, on the grounds that he was not competent to give evidence on what went on in the mind of the user of the laptop.
Responding to the objection, the defence counsel, Oyedepo said the learned silk missed the point as the question being answered by the witness which is to connect if there is any relationship between the forensic analysis.
The Judge overruled the objection, saying that the witness can give evidence on the reason he believes the defendant had those documents in his possession.
The matter has been adjourned to September 26 and 30 for continuation of the trial.