The police in Lagos has arraigned a three-man fraud syndicate before the Federal High Court sitting in the state for allegedly hacking into Zenith Bank Plc server and defrauded it of N500 million.
The men of the Police Special Fraud Unit docked the men: Kehinde Oladimeji, Olanrewaju Adeshina and Kolapo Stephen before Justice Peter Lifu over allegations of conspiracy, cybercrime and fraud.
The prosecutor, Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), told Justice Lifu that the defendants committed the offence between March 22 and 30, 2022, at Victoria Island in Lagos.
Jackson, who is the Officer in Charge of the Legal department of the Police Special Fraud Unit, also informed the judge that the defendants conspired with one Chibuzor and Taiwo Olajiwole, who are in Holland and France respectively, to commit the offence.
He also claimed that the defendants, Chibuzor and Olajiwole caused unauthorized modification and interference with the bank’s computer system and networks, through zoom, to facilitate the commission of the said fraud against the Bank.
The prosecutor further alleged that the third defendant, Kolapo Stephen, flew in from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to partake in the alleged fraud.
Jackson insisted that the offence is contrary to Section 27(1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015, but punishable under Section 16(1) of the same Act.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Following the plea, the prosecutor urged the the judge to refuse the defendants’ application for bail and to order an accelerated hearing, due to the nature of the charge and the defendants’ network.
He instead asked Justice Lifu to fix a trial date and remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
Although the defence lawyer, Ogunbiyi Olafimihan, informed the court that he had just filed the defendants’ bail application, the judge said there was no such application in the court file.
Following the hint given by the court, Ogunbiyi urged the court for a short adjournment to enable him put his house in order, he also pleaded with the court to remand his clients in the facility of the Police Special Fraud Unit.
But Justice Lifu declined the application and ordered the defendant to be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services pending trial, while he also ordered an accelerated hearing of the case.
The judge then adjourned the matter to May 13, for commencement of trial.
One of the counts against the defendants reads: “That you, Kehinde Oladimeji, Olanrewaju Adeshina, Kolapo Stephen, between 22nd and 30rd March, 2022, at Victoria Island, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, with intent to commit cyber fraud and stealing of about Five Hundred Million Naira (N500 million) from Zenith Bank Plc, conspired amongst yourselves and with one Mr. Chibuzor in Holland and Taiwo Olajiwole in France, to commit a felony to wit: causing unauthorized modification of or interference with Zenith bank’s computer system and networks, through zoom, in order to facilitate your commission of the said fraud or stealing against the Bank and by your conducts you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 27(1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act 2015, but punishable under Section 16(1) of the same Act.”