A Federal High Court in Lagos Tuesday adjourned the trial of a popular musician, Azeez Fashola, a.k.a Naira Marley till February 16, 2021, or 78 days.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo fixed the date following the absence of an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Mr Augustine Anosike, which stalled the resumption of Marley’s trial for alleged cybercrime.
Anosike, a forensic analyst, is testifying as a second prosecution witness in the case.
Marley, who was arrested by the EFCC on May 14, 2019, has been standing trial on an 11-count charge bothering on the offence.
According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates between November 26, 2018, and December 11, 2018, as well as May 10, 2019.
The EFCC claimed that some of the credit cards discovered in Marley’s residence bore the fictitious names Nicole Louise Malyon and Timea Fedorne Tatar.
These, the agency alleged, were used in furtherance of internet scams.
Marley, who sang the hit songs ‘Soapy’ and ‘Am I a Yahoo Boy’, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on May 20, 2019, and is out on bail.
Trial has since commenced in the case and Anosike, who concluded his examination in chief on October 27, was scheduled for cross-examination.
When the case was called, EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo announced an appearance for the prosecution, while Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN) appeared for the defendant.
Mr Oyedepo informed the court that his witness was unavoidably absent on what he termed “compassionate grounds”.
He added that the witness was in his village, and prayed the court for an adjournment till December 14.
But Mr Ojo lamented the delay, saying “It is rather unfortunate that the matter could not proceed today; the prosecution ought to have given sufficient notice of the witness’ absence.”
Ojo said that in the circumstances, there was nothing he could do. He urged the prosecution to ensure that adequate information reaches him sooner if a similar circumstance occurs.
The prosecutor however clarified that “I only got information as to the witness’ absence, at about 9.30 am while still in the parking lot of the court this morning,” adding that it was not in his character to waste the court’s time.
Following the parties’ agreement, the court adjourned till February 16 and February 17 for the continuation of trial.
The court vacated the previous date of December 14 on the ground that the date was no longer available for the court, following activities for the new legal year.