Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Cybercrime Section Chief Whyte Dein told the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday that his team was able to link controversial singer, Azeez Fashola aka Naira Marley, to credit card fraud.
Dein, who is also chief detective of the EFCC, was giving evidence in the ongoing trial of Naira Marley on allegations of alleged cybercrime offences.
The musician is on trial for 11 counts of conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards and fraud brought against him by the anti-corruption agency.
According to the EFCC, Naira Marley committed the offenses on different dates between November 26, 2018 and December 11, 2018, as well as May 10, 2019.
The EFCC alleged that some of the credit cards discovered at the defendant’s residence bore the fictitious names Nicole Louise Malyon and Timea Fedorne Tatar.
When he was arraigned on May 20, 2019, he pleaded not guilty and was released on bail by the court.
As the case resumed on Thursday, the witness told trial judge Judge Nicholas Oweibo that his team’s investigation uncovered various messages sent from the defendant’s iPhone to a certain Raze, who had asked for a credit card number and an expiration date.
Dein said: “One of our findings from the forensic report shows the exchange of chat messages with several people when the defendant sent credit card details, including card numbers and dates. expiry date. The Visa card details were among those sent by the defendant to a certain person known on his contact list as Raze. This message sent the Visa card details to Raze, after which Raze replied that the card was not valid.
“We were able to establish by investigation the previous messages he sent with a wrong card which was indeed not valid. We then repeated the same process a second time, which was valid.
“The defendant used malicious tools to conceal the identity and location of the laptop user while connected to the Internet, as well as the presence of the Top Browser which acted as a unique gateway to the dark net.
“This gave us reasonable grounds to suspect that the defendant was engaging in fraudulent card activity or illegally obtaining. And this was established during a response to our application for a Visa Western Union card.
“The types of sites most commonly associated with the dark web are marketplaces where illicit goods such as narcotics, firearms and stolen credit card numbers are bought and sold. The darkest corners are used to hire hitmen, engage in human trafficking and trade in child pornography,” the witness said.
EFCC lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo then asked Dein to present his conclusion on the totality of the forensic evidence and Dein felt that all the facts and more pointed to the defendant as a card fraudster.
But this decision was resisted by the defense lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN), who opposed the opinion of the witness of the EFCC.
Ojo, relying on law and case law, argued that only a court could conclude a case, based on the evidence.
In response, Oyedepo distinguished the conclusions of an investigator from those of a court, because according to him, the conclusion of a court is what binds all parties.
Judge Oweibo subsequently adjourned the case to July 13 and 15 to rule on the point and continuation of the trial.
Earlier, the EFCC presented the statements of Naira Marley made on 10, 13, 14 and 15 May 2019 while he was in their custody. The court admitted them into evidence and marked them as exhibits G, G1, G2 and G4 respectively.
The court also admitted into evidence Visa Western Union’s response to the EFCC investigation. The same was marked as Exhibit H.