Nigeria: Alleged WhatsApp Hacker Remanded in Custody Over N700,000 Fraud
By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria
In a recent legal development, a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the remand of Stephen Andrew Ojo, an alleged WhatsApp hacker, at the Ikoyi center of the Nigerian Correctional Services. The remand follows his arraignment by officers of the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos.
Ojo faced four counts, including conspiracy, identity theft, and obtaining by false pretense. The prosecution, led by Zebedee Arekhandia, informed the court that Ojo and accomplices, still at large, engaged in identity theft by hacking the WhatsApp account of Mrs. Laraba Shuaibu on September 12, 2023, at Ajao Estate, Lagos. They then impersonated her to fraudulently obtain N700,000 from Mrs. Osasu Tina Eriamiatoe.
Arekhandia revealed that the funds were deposited into Ojo’s Union Bank account and PalmPay account, which belonged to Michael Ijua. The alleged offenses contravene various sections of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2022.
Despite Ojo pleading guilty, he insisted he wasn’t the perpetrator. Justice Akintayo Aluko, the vacation judge, recorded a ‘not guilty plea’ and ordered Ojo’s remand at the Ikoyi center until January 24, 2024. The case file will then be reassigned to the substantive judge.
This legal development underscores the seriousness with which the authorities address cybercrimes and highlights the complexities surrounding identity theft cases. The legal process will determine Ojo’s culpability as investigations continue.