Witness’ Absence Stalls Naira Marley’s Trial

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The absence of a prosecution witness, Mr Augustine Anosike on Tuesday, stalled the ongoing trial of a popular Nigerian musician, Azeez Fashola, a.k.a Naira Marley before a Federal High Court, Lagos.

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

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting the defendant on charges bordering on cybercrime.

Fashola was arrested on May 14, 2019.

The musician, who sang the popular song: “Am I a yahoo boy”, was consequently, arraigned on May 20, 2019, before Justice Nicholas Oweibo, but he pleaded not guilty.

The court had accordingly, granted him bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in like sum.

Trial had since commenced in the case and the second prosecution witness who concluded his examination in chief on Oct. 27, was scheduled for cross-examination on Tuesday.

When the case was called, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo announced appearance for the prosecution, while Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) appeared for the defendant.

Oyedepo informed the court that his witness was unavoidably absent on what he termed “compassionate grounds”

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

In response, defence counsel told the court that, “ it was rather unfortunate that the matter could not proceed today, the prosecution ought to have given sufficient notice of the witness’ absence.”

Ojo said that in the circumstances, there is nothing he could do, but urged the prosecution to ensure that adequate information reaches him earlier in similar circumstances.

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Meanwhile, the prosecutor quickly clarified that “I only got information as to the witness’ absence, at about 9.30a.m. while 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 time of the court, adding that the witness will be present on the next date of adjournment.

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

The court vacated the previous date of Dec. 14 on the grounds that the date is no longer available for the court, following activities for the new legal year.

According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates between Nov. 26, 2018, and Dec.11, 2018, as well as May 10, 2019.

The commission alleged that Fashola and his accomplices conspired to use different Access Bank ATM 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 intent to defraud which amounted to theft.

The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 1, 23 (1) (b), 27 (1) and 33(9) of the Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015.

(NAN)

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