Sep 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Alleged Black Axe ‘romance scamster’ awarded R210k bail on strict conditions

An alleged member of the Black Ax organization arrested in South Africa for his alleged involvement in “love scams” in the US has been released on bail.

Toritseju Gabriel Otubu was arrested along with seven others provisionally arrested at the behest of US law enforcement officials who intend to start extradition proceedings against him to face charges of fraud, money laundering and online extortion.

He and his co-defendants were denied bail in Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in late December.

The Western Cape High Court Acting Judge, Geoffrey Carter, has set bail at R210,000 and imposed a myriad of ‘inventive’ conditions aimed at preventing him from doing so to access online platforms, flee the country and tamper with witnesses.

Carter said the judge did a “bail-b” by refusing bail ox” approach and should have been more proactive to serve the interests of the judiciary and the interests of Otubu.

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In his recent judgment, the judge Otub said you were accused of being a member of the Neo Movement of Africa, also known as the Black Axe, an organization that cheated love victims in the US via the internet and the use of cell phones.

The Director of Public Prosecutors in the Western Cape received an application of the USA pending his arrest pending extradition proceedings.

Carter said that there had been no formal request for Otubu’s extradition, at best, a criminal complaint was filed against him.

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The release trial was conducted collectively for all eight defendants and the evidence the state relied on against the release of bail was applied to all of them.

” I have no doubt that he with se was considered “on the block” by a co-defendant. I can find no concrete reference to an investigation into his personal circumstances in the entire 1,991 pages of the procedural record. It is a well-established fact and due process that a person’s personal circumstances must be determined and fully considered in order to apply the principles of fair justice,” Carter said.

The judge said the notion that Otubu could, in all likelihood, commit acts of violence or tamper with evidence – all because he was Nigerian by birth or because he was a member of Black Ax – naturally concluded that he was guilty by association, and hence the Denial of bail.

“This approach was misguided and wrong. The evidence paints a very different picture.”

He said the head of prosecutions in the Western Cape admitted that there was no evidence that he was a member of the Black Axe. The director had also focused on whether he posed a flight risk and had given little or little thought to possible restrictive bail conditions. There was also no real evidence that he posed a risk of absconding, he said, or that he would tamper with evidence or interfere with witnesses.

During the bail application, a police witness said Otubu had no fixed address, no had a steady job, had family in Nigeria, was in South Africa illegally and was part of the group that “carries out criminal activities of a violent nature”.

Carter said he believes this to be factually incorrect. He said that because a defendant is a foreigner, that doesn’t preclude him from being considered for bail.

Another factor, the judge said, is the length of time it might take the extradition proceedings have been completed. Lawyers for Otubu had argued that it “could take years”.

“There has been much controversy over the mobile phone issue that 11 mobile phones had been confiscated from detention cells, five of which were in Otubu detention cell was arrested. It was further argued that the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the complainant [Otubu] shared the phones. There is no evidence he used the phones, let alone contacted anyone in Nigeria.”

Carter said Otubu has been in detention for six months and there is no certainty about how long it would take for the extradition investigation and his transfer to the US.

“In my view, the [magistrate] could have imposed strict bail conditions.”

At After granting bail, the judge said:

  • Obutu’s property in Parklands was kept under lock and key;
  • barred him from contact with his co-defendants and witnesses;
  • confiscates the passports of him and his wife ; and
  • placed him under house arrest between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

He also prohibited him:

  • from using three E -Mail accounts or registration of a new e-mail account;
  • Conducting financial transactions using iCloud, cryptocurrency, bitcoin payments, storage wallets, Google Drive, blockchain devices and mobile storage wallets; and
  • conducting financial transactions with 13 international banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Another condition was that he must not participate, directly or indirectly, in any crime involving “romance Scamming”, electronic scamming and cybercrime, either in South Africa or another jurisdiction.

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