A federal high court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday has adjourned until tomorrow to start the trial if Nigerian upcoming musician Azeez Fashola mainly known as Naira Marley who’s facing 11-count criminal charges.
The trial was scheduled to commence 23, Tuesday. Meanwhile, Naira Marley, via his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, prayed Justice Nicholas Oweibo to stop proceedings until a motion he filed today was determined.
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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 the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the adjournment application. According to him, the prosecution was not in possession of the required documents, besides, the defense was not entitled to the statements as of right.
In a bench ruling, Justice Oweibo granted Naira Marley’s prayer. Ojo moved the motion and again, Oyedepo opposed him.
After hearing the motion, the judge ruled in Naira Marley’s favor and therefore ordered the EFCC to provide the defense with its investigators’ statements.
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He held: “In a criminal trial, it must be borne in mind that criminal trial at the federal high court is a summary trial. Therefore proof of evidence is not required.
“However, the investigating officer’s report must be furnished to the defense and the statements of witnesses, if any.” He adjourned the trial until Wednesday (tomorrow).
Naira Marley, popular for his “Am I a Yahoo Boy” and “Soapy” tracks, who lives in Lagos is being prosecuted by the EFCC on an 11-count charge of conspiracy, possession of counterfeit cards and fraud.
His co-defendant is Yad Isril, said to still be at large.
The defendant was arraigned on May 20, 2019, but pleaded not guilty to the charges. He secured a N2-million bail with two sureties in like sum.
According to the charge, the defendant committed the offenses on different dates including November 26, 2018, December 11, 2018, and May 10, 2019.
Naira Marley and his accomplices allegedly conspired to use different Access Bank ATM cards to defraud their victims.
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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 cards, belonging to different cardholders, with intent to defraud, and which also constituted theft.
The offenses contravene the provisions of Section 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1}, 33, 33(9) Cyber Crime (Prohibition) Prevention Act, 2015.