EFCC, defence lawyers battle over opening SIM on Naira Marley’s iPhone
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday objected to an application for examination of the iPhone SIM slot of a musician, Azeez Fashola a.k.a Naira Marley, charged with cybercrime.
EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, raised the objection during cross-examination of the second prosecution witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
He said that the witness should not be made to open the SIM slot of the phone to determine SIM card presence, since he never opened it during his analysis.
EFCC preferred cybercrime charges against the musician on May 14, 2019.
Fashola, who sang the popular song: “Am I a Yahoo Boy”, was arraigned on May 20, 2019, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, but he pleaded not guilty.
The court granted him bail in the sum of two million naira with two sureties in like sum.
Trial had since begun in the case and the second prosecution witness who concluded his examination-in-chief on Oct. 27, 2021, is under cross-examination.
On Thursday, defence counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), asked the witness if he recalled testifying that his gadgets could capture and retrieve deleted information.
When the witness replied in the affirmative, Ojo asked if he had indicated in Exhibit F or F1 that any information was deleted and retrieved.
In response, the witness told the court that the content of his report indicated that items recovered also included deleted information.
When the defence counsel redirected the witness to specifically answer the question, he told the court that for instance, in the column tagged messages, it was stated that two pieces of information were deleted but recovered.
He said that in the web/history column, it was indicated that about 688 information were deleted but recovered, while another web column indicated that 120 items were deleted but recovered.
Referring to Pages 1958, of Exhibit F1, the witness told the court that it indicated that an incoming text was deleted, adding that the message ID read Nairamarley@icloud.com.
He told the court that the deleted and recovered items showed that the gadgets was able to recover even deleted information.
Defence counsel then asked the witness if the defendant’s iPhone had a SIM card when he worked on it.
In response, the witness told the court that he did not open the phone of the defendant, but only ran the extraction and emerged with the result.
When asked if he was able to detect that the iPhone was a used phone before it was sent to him for analysis, the witness replied that he was not in a position to do so.
When asked when the first information extracted was done, the witness said that for instance under contact, the first index was created on Sept. 2, 2018, and modified on Dec. 21, 2018, as recorded in the device.
Defence counsel then called for the iPhone of the defendant and applied to the court for the witness to be allowed to open the SIM slot in order to determine whether a SIM card was present.
However, prosecutor objected to the application on grounds that the witness had already testified on record that he did not open the phone during analysis.
He argued that having not done so during analysis, the witness should not be made to do so during trial.
However, Ojo said that what he sought to demonstrate before the court was whether the SIM card was inside the iPhone of defendant, and not to remove or tamper with it.
He told the court that he also sought to demonstrate that the said phone number of the defendant, which ended in 32, was in use at the moment, whereas the same phone was in the custody of the court
After arguments and counter-arguments, the court upheld the argument of prosecution that opening the SIM slot was not the proper thing to do.
The judge adjourned the case until April 6, for continuation of trial.
According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates between Nov. 26, 2018 and Dec.11, 2018, as well as on May 10, 2019.
The commission alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank utimated teller machine 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 the intent to defraud.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33(9) of Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015
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