SIM Swap Fraud: Court Revokes Bail of Fake Military Officer

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JUSTICE Agathar Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday, October 17, 2019, revoked the bail granted on March 27, 2019, to Asoqwo Henry Mfon, a fake military officer who is being prosecuted by the Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for N700,000.00 fraud.

The bail was revoked following a mild drama in court when Mfon, refused to open his passworded mobile phone (Tecno Spark 3) to enable the court compare pictures of him wearing military uniforms snapped with his phone and the ones printed from the phone which were presented by the second prosecution witness in the case, PW2, Suleiman Abba.

“I cannot remember my password”, the defendant arrogantly said. Justice Okeke immediately revoked the bail on the grounds that “the defendant has clearly showed that he did not deserve the bail granted to him”.

Earlier, while being led in evidence by Adebayo Soares, the prosecution counsel, Abba, an investigator with the Commission, informed the court that the anti-graft agency received a petition dated December 31, 2018, by one Tom Itoro Edet alleging that the defendant swapped her Subscriber Identification Module, SIM Card and fraudulently withdrew N700,000.00 from her account domiciled in First City Monument Bank, FCMB.

He said, “My team, the Advance Fee Fraud Section of the EFCC, swung into action, arrested him on January 3, 2019, and found a Nigerian Army 20 Battalion Identification Card with him. I asked him if he was a military personnel and he said ‘no’, which led us to cause a search in his house.

“When we got to his house, we found military kits and uniforms in a bag. We also found his friend living with him who confirmed that the uniform belonged to the defendant”.

He continued, “we also found a military bullet proof vest with black cover shoes and more military uniforms in a laundry shop opposite his house, belonging to him.”

The PW2 further told the court that at the Uyo Zonal Office, the defendant made various statements on different dates namely; January 3, 4, 8, 17, 2019; February 19, 21 and March 8, 2019.

According to Abba, “We analysed the bank statements and we saw Automated Teller Machine, ATM withdrawals starting from the said date the complainant alleged that the defendant swapped her sim card.

“During investigation, we discovered that the defendant knew her ATM pin before he took the card. The bank statements showed that N700,000.00 was withdrawn at different times on different ATM machines”, the witness said.

He further stated that a mobile phone (Tecno Spark 3) which was found with him was also analysed and pictures of the defendant and his friends in military uniforms were found in it.

He said, “with his permission, I connected the phone with my HP desktop and printer which are working perfectly and I printed out a hard copy of the pictures which i compared with the ones in his phone, they were the same. I showed him and he acknowledged them, signed and wrote date on them.”

According to the PW2, an investigation activities letter was sent by the Commission to 20 Brigade Nigerian Army, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State to confirm if the defendant was a staff of the Nigerian Army and the authenticity of the Nigerian Army ID card found on him. A response dated January 8, 2019, “informed us that he is not a personnel of the Nigerian Army and has never been a staff and that the ID card was fake”, Abba said.

The petition dated December 31, 2109 and the said fake ID card were shown to the investigator and he identified them.

When sought to be tendered by the prosecution, the defence counsel, Utomo Okon Essien objected to the admissibility of the fake ID card on the grounds that the face on the card was not the face of the defendant.

Soares asked the court to discountenance the objection of the defence on the ground that it was not supported by law.

The court admitted the petition in evidence and marked it as exhibit P1 and the fake military ID card, as P2.

The court also admitted the following in evidence; Military kits containing several military shirts and trousers including military boots, marked as exhibits P3:1-11; the  defendant’s phone (Tecno Spark 3), marked as exhibit P4; and the response letter from the Nigerian Army dated January 8, 2018, marked as exhibit P5.

Others are; the response letter from the First City Monument Bank dated January 5, 2019, marked as exhibit P6:1-16 and a bundle of hard copies of pictures extracted from the defendant’s phone, marked as exhibit P7:1-7.

Concluding his testimony, Abba informed the court that when the defendant was arrested and shown the petition, he agreed to the crime and promised to pay back.

“He paid N100,000.00 to the complainant as part payment”, the witness said.

When the prosecution sought to tender the statements made by the defendant, the defence did not object to the one made on January 3, 2019 but objected to the rest on the grounds that they were made under duress.

The statement made on January 3, 2019 was admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit P9.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to November 15, 2019, for trial within trial. The defendant was ordered to be remanded in Uyo prison custody.

He was arrested on January 3, 2019, at Ayara street, Nungu Uko in Ibesikpo Local Government Area of Akwa State and was arraigned on March 27, 2019 on a two-count count charge bordering on forgery and fraud.

– Oct 19, 2019 @ 15:45 GMT |

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