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Alleged cyber fraud: Absence of counsel stalls hearing of police charge

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A magistrate court sitting in Life Camp, Abuja, Tuesday adjourned till September 22, the commencement of trial on a case of alleged cyber fraud and impersonation brought against one Miss Samuel Love Osatohanmwen by the Nigerian Police.

Magistrate Chinyere Nwecheonwu adjourned the matter following the absence of defence counsel as at the time the matter was called.

The defendant is being prosecuted for alleged mischief, computer-related fraud, unauthorized modifications of computer systems network data and impersonation of her employer.

The charge, which the prosecution stated, runs contrary to Section 327 of the Penal Code and Sections 14, 16, 22, and 31 of the Cybercrime Act.

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The defendant, who was arraigned on July 6, has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against her and was consequently ordered to be remanded at Keffi Prisons pending the perfection of her bail conditions.

The matter was then adjourned till Monday for hearing.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecution counsel, Bob Emmanuel told the court of his readiness for commencement of trial but the defendant told the court that her counsel was on his way to the court. This made the prosecutor ask for 30 minutes stand down to enable his colleague to arrive in the interest of fair hearing and justice.

His oral application was, however, dismissed as the Magistrate announced that such request was not convenient to the court.

The court, therefore, adjourned till September 22 for the commencement of trial.

Before adjournment, however, a set of document tagged ‘Prove of Evidence’ was served on the defendant.

Although she declined acceptance, she was ordered by the court to accept the same on behalf of her lawyer.

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Miss Osatohanmwen had perfected her N500,000 bail bond and other conditions on July 7 and was granted bail accordingly.

The complainant accused authorities of flouting court order by returning her to the police station in Abuja rather than Keffi prison.

But the prison officer responsible for executing the order stated that his action was informed by the directive issued by the Chief Judge of Federal Capital Territory High Court, stopping accused persons from being remanded in prisons due to COVID-19 pandemic.

One Okolie Chris Okwy of Patflorers Kitchen, a subsidiary of Patflorers International Limited had on June 29, reported Osatohanmwen to the Life Camp Police Division for refusing to relinquish access to the company’s social media accounts and had gone ahead to illegally access same and delete both Instagram and Gmail accounts thereby harming the business.

But counsel to the defendant, who later appeared in court premises held, that the charge was a mere allegation aimed at intimidating the young lady into confessing to an offence she did not commit.


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