Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned a self-acclaimed hacker, Chris Ihebuzor, before an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Lagos, for allegedly stealing, cyber stalking and demanding money, with written threats, from Access Bank Plc. Ihebuzor was arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on stealing, unauthorised access and modification of computer materials.
The EFCC prosecutor, Franklin Ofoma, said the defendant committed the offence sometime in August, 2020 in Lagos contrary to Sections 278 (1) & (2), 285 (1), 300, 385 (1) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011. The prosecutor said that Ihebuzor, with intent to defraud, had in his possession Access Bank Public Liability Company’s document, containing phone numbers, bank accounts and biometric verification numbers (BVN) of Access Bank customers. He said the defendant, with intent to extort money from Access Bank Plc, knowingly sent an electronic mail to the management of Access Bank Plc, demanding money from them.
The EFCC prosecutor alleged that the defendant, with intent to defraud, had unauthorised access to computer materials of Access Bank Plc customers’ public data and caused unauthorised modifications of the bank’s public liability. The defendant was also said to have unauthorised access to Access Bank customer’s public data, with intent to facilitate and extort money from Access Bank. However, the defendant, upon arraignment, pleaded not guilty to the charges. Following the no guilt plea, the prosecutor urged the court to remand the defendant at the Correctional Centre and also asked for a trial date. The defence lawyer, Mr. G. U. Okachi, pleaded with the court to grant the defendant bail on the most liberal terms.
He said: “My lord, unfortunately I was just briefed on this matter yesterday so I couldn’t file a proper and formal bail application to the court. “I had a brief discussion with my client (the defendant) this morning and we intend to explore the options of a plea bargain agreement with the EFCC. “We urge the court to allow the defendant continue on the bail application granted him by the police and the EFCC. He never jumped bail while in their custody. And we are ready to procure the same sureties used for his release from police custody.”
The prosecutor did not oppose to the bail application and also informed the court that the commission was aware of the defendant’s intentions to enter a plea bargain. While granting the bail application, Justice O. O. Afadipe said that based on the submissions of the counsel, it showed that the defendant was eligible to bail and he was not a flight risk. He said: “The defendant is hereby granted bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum and one of the sureties must be a blood relation.
“The defendant must not leave the jurisdictions of this court. The two sureties and the defendant must submit verifiable and valid residential addresses which would be verified by the court. “The defendant must also fill a form of undertaking to comply with conditions one and two. The defendant is to be remanded at the EFCC custody pending the perfection of his bail conditions. The matter was thereafter adjourned till January 27, 2021 for possible trial.”