Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court in Lagos has detained Stephen Ojo, an alleged internet fraudster accused of specializing in hacking WhatsApp accounts of unsuspecting individuals. Ojo will be held in the custody of the Ikoyi Center of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) until January 24, 2024, when the case will be transferred to another judge,leadership reports.

The order was issued after the defendant was presented before Justice Aluko by Officers of Zone 2, Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, facing a four-count charge, including conspiracy, identity theft, and obtaining N700,000 through false pretense.

Police prosecutor Zebedee Arekhandia informed the court that on September 12, 2024, at Ajao Estate, Lagos, Ojo and accomplices engaged in identity theft by hacking the WhatsApp account of Mrs. Laraba Shuaibu and impersonating her. The alleged hacker purportedly used the hacked account to fraudulently obtain N700,000 from Mrs. Osasu Tina Eriamiatoe, with the money being deposited into the defendant’s Union Bank account and PalmPay account number 9550723433, registered under Michael Ijua.

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Arekhandia emphasized that the offenses violated sections 8(a) and 1(3)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, and also contravened sections 24 (2)(a)(b) (i)(ii) and (iii) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, as well as Section 15 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2022, as amended in 2012.

Despite the defendant’s guilty plea, claiming innocence of the alleged crimes, Justice Aluko entered a ‘not guilty plea’ on his behalf due to the conflicting statements. As a vacation judge, Justice Aluko ordered Ojo’s remand at the Ikoyi center of NCoS until January 24, 2024, when the Court’s Chief Judge will reassign the case to a substantive judge.


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