. As Court Adjourns Till March 11
The trial of one Chris Ihebuzo for offences bordering on stealing, demanding property by written threat, attempt to commit a felony, unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised modification of computer material, and unauthorised access with intent to commit and facilitate commission of further offences continued on February 18, 2022 before Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presenting its third witness.
Ihebuzo, known as the “Access Bank hacker”, following his viral video in which he bragged of gaining access into the bank’s database and extracting data of over 2,000 customers, including their Bank Verification Numbers, BVNs, was arrested by operatives of the EFCC sometime in September 2020.
The bank had petitioned the EFCC and following the conclusion of investigations, a seven-count charge was drafted against him to which he pleaded “not guilty”.
One of the counts reads: “Chris Ihebuzo, sometime in August 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud had in your possession Access Bank Public Liability Company’s document, containing the phone numbers, bank account numbers and biometrics verification numbers of Access Bank customers.”
Another count reads: “Chris Ihebuzo, sometime in August 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, 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.”
At the resumed sitting today, Chuks Igwenga, an Internal Auditor at the Head Office of the bank, testified against the defendant as the third prosecution witness, PW3.
Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Franklin Ofoma, he said he was in charge of investigation and review of fraud and unethical issues in the bank.
Describing himself as a Certified Fraud Examiner, he said, identified Ihebuzo in the dock as the one who threatened the bank to “settle him” else he would go viral with the video.
He said, “Sometime in 2020, the defendant made contact with our Contact Centre Team , telling them that he was in possession of unauthorised customer information, their account numbers, BVN, phone numbers and other details, which he claimed he accessed by hacking the Access Bank system.
“And he was saying that the bank should come and settle him, if not he will go viral with the information he had. It was like blackmail.
“He was ignored and in August 2020 he posted a video that went viral on Instagram in which he has a picture of Access Bank customers’ information, claiming he has access at the comfort of his home, and that he can remove money from anybody’s account.”
He told the Court that the bank carried out an internal investigation and the video was traced to the defendant after which the bank petitioned the EFCC.
He thereafter identified Exhibit P1 as the petition written by Access Bank to the EFCC and Exhibit P6 as the information posted online by the defendant containing the sensitive customer information which the defendant posted online.
He said, “He was using the information to threaten the bank, that he will use it to defraud these customers.”
The case has been adjourned till March 11, 2022 for the defence to open its case.