Hackers Who Stole N500m From Zenith Bank Arraigned In Court
Fred Omotara, Lagos
A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered an accelerated trial of suspected hackers who stole half a billion Naira from Zenith Bank.
Justice Peter Lifu gave the order following the suspects’ 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 on allegations of conspiracy, cybercrime, and fraud.
Arraigning the defendants, the Head of Legal Department at SFU, CSP Emmanuel Jackson, 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.
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.
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 to put his house in order.
He also pleaded with the court to remand his clients at the facility of SFU.
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.
One of the counts against the defendants reads: “That you, Kehinde Oladimeji, Olanrewaju Adeshina, Kolapo Stephen, between 22nd and 30th March 2022, at Victoria Island, Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable Court, with intent to commit cyber fraud and stealing of about 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 an 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.