Thursday, June 13, 2024

Absence of EFCC witness stalls Mompha’s N6 billion money laundering trial

• November 1, 2023

The trial of the social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha (alias Mompha), charged with N6 billion money laundering, before the Ikeja Special Offences Court, was stalled due to the absence of a prosecution witness.

When the case was called on Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, informed the court that the prosecution’s next witness was not in the country.

Ms Buhari also urged the court to allow the witness to give his evidence via virtual hearing.

“My lord, we are sorry our witness could not make it to court today because he is out of the country for training. We, however, apply that the witness’ evidence be taken virtually,” she said.

The defence counsel, Kolawole Salami, however, objected to the prosecution submission. Mr Salami argued that the prosecution had ample time to prepare and bring witnesses.

“My lord, the prosecution had enough time to prepare and bring their witnesses only to make application for virtual hearing this morning without any notification. We ask that their oral application be dismissed,” Mr Salami said.

Justice Mojisola Dada overruled the prosecution’s submission and adjourned the case until Dec. 19 for continuation of trial.

The EFCC had on September 18 tendered some documents through a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, Ayotunde Solademi, against Mompha. The documents were reports by the FBI and an investigative report on Mompha’s iPhone, which the agency claimed was used for fraudulent activities.

Mompha’s trial in absentia started on June 3 when a compliance officer with Access Bank testified against him. The prosecution had informed the court on May 15 that it had secured his in collaboration with its international partners.

The court, on September 21, ordered the commencement of trial of the defendant in absentia after he failed to appear before it. The EFCC had, on January 22, arraigned Mustapha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd., on eight counts bordering on N6 billion laundering.

The court had, on June 22, issued a bench warrant for his arrest following his absence in court. The judge also revoked the bail she granted the defendant.

The social media celebrity was equally absent in court on June 16. On June 10, EFCC accused him of flouting the court’s order by travelling to Dubai with a new international passport.

The charges against Mompha include conspiracy to launder money obtained through unlawful activities and laundering money obtained through unlawful activities. Others are retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, use of property derived from an unlawful act, possession of a document containing false pretences, and failure to disclose assets. 


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