A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday adjourned till Wednesday the trial of musician, Azeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley, who is facing card fraud charges.
The trial was scheduled to commence yesterday, but Marley, through his counsel Mr Olalekan Ojo SAN, prayed Justice Nicholas Oweibo to halt proceedings until a motion he filed yesterday morning was determined.
In the motion, the defendant prayed the court to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to furnish him with the prosecution witnesses’ statements.
Ojo said: “In the course of pre-trial preparation, it was discovered that certain documents which we require and to which prosecution made reference in their proof of evidence, are not available to us.”
He prayed the court to hear his motion before the prosecution calls its first witness.
But, EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the adjournment application.
According to him, the prosecution was not in possession of the required documents, besides, the defence was not entitled to the statements as of right.
In a bench ruling, Justice Oweibo granted Marley’s prayer.
Ojo moved the motion and again, Oyedepo opposed him.
After hearing the motion, the judge ruled in Marley’s favour. He ordered the EFCC to provide the defence with its investigators’ statements, if any.
He held: “In criminal trial, it must be borne in mind that criminal trial at the Federal High Court is summary trial, therefore proof of evidence is not required. However, the investigating officer’s report must be furnished to the defence and the statements of witnesses if any.”
He adjourned trial till tomorrow.
Earlier, before yesterday’s proceedings began, Oyedepo observed that Marley had entered the dock with a small bag.
He said: “My lord, playing very safe, I observe that the defendant is with his bag, may I request that for security reasons, the defendant remain in the dock without his bag?”
The judge motioned for the defendant to comply and Marley placed the bag on the pile of documents beside him.
Fashola, popular for his “Am I a Yahoo Boy” and “Soapy” tracks, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on an 11-count charge of conspiracy, possession of counterfeit cards and fraud.
His co-defendant is one Yad Isril, said to still be at large.
The defendant was arraigned on May 20, 2019, but pleaded not guilty.
He secured N2 million bail with two sureties in the like sum.
According to the charge, the defendant committed the offences on different dates including November 26, 2018, December 11, 2018, and May 10,
Fashola and his accomplices allegedly conspired to use different Access Bank ATM Cards to defraud their victims.
They allegedly used Access Card number 5264711020433662 issued to other persons, in a bid to obtain fraudulent financial gains.
Fashola was said to have possessed these counterfeit credit cards, belonging to different cardholders, with intent to defraud, and which also constituted theft.
The offences contravene the provisions of Section 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1}, 33, 33(9) Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015.