The trial of a 19-year-old cybercrime kingpin, David Oritsegbeyiwa Ofoeyeno, a student of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado Ekiti, who was uncovered through a joint operation of the Akin Fadeyi Foundation (AFF) and the school management could not proceed at the Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, on Tuesday, due to the transfer of the presiding judge, Justice Uche Agomoh.
Ofoeyeno, a 300-level student of Media and Communication studies at ABUAD was the head of a syndicate uncovered through a covert investigation launched by AFF after receiving complaints from victims on its FLAGIT App. He was accused of defrauding some girls by bullying and threatening to release their nude pictures online.
At the resumed hearing of the case, the prosecution was ready to go on with trial as it had four witnesses in court; three of which were female students of ABUAD who had fallen victim to the cyber bully syndicate and the Director of Students’ Affairs of the university, Mr Wahab Babatunde.
But when the case was called, Justice Agomoh announced to the court that she has been transferred to the Oyo State Division of the Federal High Court in Ibadan, adding that she only has few days more and can therefore not open trial in the case.
“Let me announce to this court that I have been transferred to Ibadan Division and I have just two days more to spend here in this Judicial Division. The Prosecution has four witnesses lined up for today and if I should begin with the trial, I can’t take all the four and there would be adjournment, so it is better to adjourn this case.Probably the case can be taken over by another judge,” she said.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Femi Falade and the defense counsel, Mr P.O Omokhase did not object to the position of the court on the matter. The case was subsequently adjourned till April 22 for hearing.
Speaking on the delay necessitated by the judge’s transfer, ABUAD’s Students’ Affairs Director, said the prosecuting counsel could still exploit the option of filing an application for fiat so that the transferred judge can continue to hear the matter from her new division.
“The prosecuting counsel sees this as a good option and possibility, so that this case can be adjudicated upon expeditiously and without delay,” he said.
Babatunde added that ABUAD remains committed to its philosophy of graduating students both in learning and character, assuring the institution’s support for AFF to ensure justice is served in the case.
It would be recalled that the matter commenced in November 2020 with the arraignment of Ofoeyeno for prosecution after investigation by AFF busted the syndicate of cyber bullies following complaints sent to its FLAGIT App by some students that the accused person had extorted millions of naira from them by threatening to upload their nude videos and pictures on social media platforms.
Ofoeyeno was arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit a felony with cyber fraud, attempt to defraud, impersonation, threat to expose nudes and cyber stalking among others. He was alleged to have cyber bullied 17 identified girls across various universities in Nigeria, including Elizade University in Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State and Kaduna State University, while four of his victims are from ABUAD.
Ofoeyeno’s arrest followed six months of covert investigations carried out by AFF in collaboration with the school and with support from the First lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
His offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 27 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act 2015, Section 14 (2) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention Law, 2004 and Section 22 (2) (b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition Prevention) Act 2015.
AFF investigations revealed that the group usually approach ladies for relationship and would consequently lure them to send their nude photos for beauty pageant entries after securing their trust. It said one of the victims was on the verge of suicide due to constant threats and extortion when she heard about the FLAGIT App. And to catch Ofoeyeno, AFF had continued to help the victim pay the money being demanded