Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Court rejects WhatsApp messages as evidence in trial of Bayelsa teenager

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A Federal High Court in Yenagoa, on Tuesday, declined to admit a computer printout of WhatsApp communication between a retired Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa and his alleged blackmailer.

The State Security Services, SSS, had on Oct. 18, in relation to the case, arraigned a teenage girl before the court on a one-count charge of cyber-stalking.

The prosecuting counsel, Victor Uchendu, had told the court that the defendant engaged in cyber-stalking by circulating Dr Walton Liverpool’s nude picture on a WhatsApp group.

Uchendu had on Oct 21, sought to tender the print-out of chat messages from the mobile phone of the complainant as evidence before the court, but the move was opposed by the Defence Counsel, Arthur Andrew.

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Ruling on the admissibility of the print-out of electronic evidence, Justice I.H. Ndahen, the trial judge, while admitting that the evidence, though relevant to the case, could not be admitted because of the disparity in models of the mobile phones used.

Ndahen noted that while the Retired Permanent Secretary, Dr Walton Liverpool, 60, in his oral evidence, said that his mobile phone was a Samsung Galaxy A5, the certificate of compliance accompanying the print-out read Samsung Galaxy A7.

He, therefore, ruled that the evidence did not meet the criteria for admissibility for computer-generated electronic evidence, as stipulated in Section 48 of the Evidence Act.

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The court then proceeded into the trial, where the prosecution counsel led Liverpool, who had written a petition to the DSS, to conclude his evidence before the court.

The complainant tendered the nude video of himself sent to him by yet to be identified blackmailers in a Compact Disc before the court.

The video was played in the open court after which the Ex-permanent Secretary was cross-examined by the Defence Counsel.

The judge then adjourned the case till Dec. 16, for the continuation of trial.

NAN

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