A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted bail in the sum of two million naira and two sureties to a musician, Azeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley), facing cybercrime charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on May 20, brought the musician before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards and fraud.
Also mentioned in the charge is one Yad Isril, who is said to be at large.
The musician, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The court had ordered his remand in prison and adjourned hearing on his bail application.
On Thursday, his lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), prayed the court to grant the musician bail on liberal terms.
Ojo argued that as a celebrity, the defendant would not jump bail.
Citing relevant statutory authorities as well as decision of the Supreme Court, Ojo urged the court to grant bail to the musician in its discretion as allowed by the law.
He noted that the law provided for a prison term of not more than seven years for the offence, adding that the law provided that the defendant would be entitled to bail.
However, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application for bail, claiming that the defendant was a “flight risk”.
He said that there was an upsurge in the rate of cybercrime popularly termed “yahoo yahoo” in Nigeria, arguing that the menace had left the country in a devastating condition and dented its image.
He also submitted that as a celebrity, the conduct of the defendant had a multiplier effect on the youth looking up to him as a model.
Oyedepo prayed the court to deny the musician bail.
The judge ruled that the reasons adduced by the prosecution were not strong enough to warrant denial of bail to the defendant.
He ordered that one of the sureties must be a civil servant of grade level 10 and above or an owner of a landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.
He adjourned the case until Oct. 22, for trial.
According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates including Nov. 26, 2018, Dec. 11, 2018, and May 10.
The commission alleged that the musician conspired with other persons to use different Access cards to defraud some people.
The EFCC said that the defendant used Access Card number 5264711020433662 issued to another person to obtain fraudulent financial gains.
It added that the defendant possessed counterfeit credit cards with the intent to defraud and steal.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the alleged offences contravene Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1), 33, 33(9) Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015.
Cybercrime attracts up to seven years of imprisonment. (NAN)