N500m Fraud: Court Orders Accelerated Trial of Alleged Hackers of Zenith Bank

A Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria, has ordered an accelerated trial of some suspected hackers who stole half a billion naira (N500m) from a Zenith Bank.

The presiding judge, Justice Peter Lifu gave the order following their arraignment by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police.

SFU arraigned the alleged hackers, Kehinde Oladimeji, Olanrewaju Adeshina and Kolapo Stephen before Justice Lifu over allegations of conspiracy, cybercrime and fraud.

Arraigning the defendants, the SFU head of legal in Lagos Office, Emmanuel Jackson, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), informed the judge that the defendants conspired with one Chibuzor and Taiwo Olajiwole, who are in Holland and France respectively, to commit the offence.

The prosecutor told Justice Lifu that the defendants committed the offence between March 22 and 30, 2022, at Victoria Island in Lagos.

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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.

CSP 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.

Upon their plea, he urged the court to deny the defendants’ application for bail and to order an accelerated hearing, due to the nature of the charge and the defendants’ network.

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Opposing the prosecutor’s request, the defence lawyer, Mr Ogunbiyi Olafimihan, informed the court that he had just filed the defendants’ bail application, but the judge said there was no such application in the court file.

Following the development, Mr. 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.

Justice Lifu declined the application and ordered the defendant to be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services pending trial, while ordering an accelerated hearing of the case.

The judge then adjourned the matter to May 13, for commencement of trial.

Also Read: Police SFU Makes Case For Fraud Special Courts

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.”

Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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