Two university students are accused of allegedly stealing Sh24.4 million after hacking into a local bank’s system, and are also said to have attempted to move another Sh190.7 million. The Information and Technology (IT) students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) were on Monday charged with conspiring to defraud NCBA Bank of over Sh190.7 million and stealing Sh24.4 million. Antony Mwangi Ngige, 23, and Ann Wambui Nyoike, 21, were arraigned before senior resident magistrate Carolyne Muthoni Njagi over the offences that the prosecution alleges were committed between October 20 and 22, this year. They denied the charges before Ms Njagi at the Milimani Law Courts. The prosecution said the two students conspired to defraud the lender with others who are yet to be arrested. Curiously, the court heard that it was Mr Ngige had alerted the bank via Twitter about the systems hitch that he discovered through NCBA’s mobile app. “It is the first accused (Ngige) who initiated his prosecution process by informing bank authorities that there was a hitch in its system,” the magistrate was told by their lawyer. The defence argues that Mr Ngige is a whistleblower who has now been turned into a suspect.
The lawyer explained that when the bank failed to respond urgently to Ngige’s tweet, the accused “took it upon himself and wrote an SMS (a short text messenger) to the bank about the anomaly.” Following the SMS, the bank’s management summoned him on Saturday. He presented himself and again they was asked to report today (Monday), after which he and Ms Nyoike were arrested and later brought before court. “I urge this court to release the suspects on a reasonable cash bail of Sh100,000 given that they are students and not financially able to raise a substantial amount,” the lawyer urged Ms Njagi. The prosecuting counsel, Ms Winnie Moraa, did not object to their release on bond. But she asked the court to consider the colossal amounts involved and impose more stringent measures. In her ruling, Ms Njagi said bail is a constitutional right for every suspect “unless compelling reasons are presented by the prosecution.” She directed each of the accused to deposit a bond of Sh2 million with one surety or similar amount or they deposit a cash bail of Sh500,000 each. She directed that the case be mentioned virtually on November 10, 2020 for pre-trial directions. – nation.co.ke