Corruption and Underdevelopment

Money Laundering: Mompha’s trial recommences June 16

By Paul Michael, Abuja

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has adjourned the trial of Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha to June 16, 2022, for further trial in the case. The case was adjourned on Friday, 10th June 2022.

Mompha, alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, was arraigned by the Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on January 12, 2022, on eight counts bordering on conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents containing false pretence and use of property derived from unlawful activity.

One of the counts reads, “Ismaila Mustapha, Ahmadu Mohammed (at large), and Ismalob Global Investment Limited, sometime in 2016, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to conduct financial transactions to the tune of N5,998,884,653.18 ( Five Billion NineHundred and Ninety-eight Million Eight Hundred and Eighty-four Thousand Six Hundred and Fifty-three Naira Eighteen Kobo) with the intent of promoting the carrying on of specified unlawful activities to wit: Obtaining by false pretence.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

At today’s sitting, which was fixed by the Court for a “definite final report” on the plea bargain being explored by both parties, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, informed the Court that an agreement was drafted and sent to the defence.

He said, “The defendant informed us that they needed five days to enable them execute the terms, and we thought that they were working with utmost sincerity of heart.

“Apparently from their disposition, it appears that the decision of the defendant is for us to go head-on with the prosecution of this matter.”

Acknowledging that the prosecution sent a draft plea bargain to the defence, the defence counsel, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, said, “the day before we took the last date, the prosecution sent us a draft plea bargain on the very day.

“At the last date, my Lord, a day before coming before your lordship was when they sent the draft to us.

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“It is extremely important for me to state that a man will not, because of peace, plead guilty to what he has not done. I have always cooperated with the prosecution, and I am not averse to accelerated hearing.”

Responding, however, Oyedepo stressed that the prosecution was not “desperate for anything” and was not interested in putting pressure on the defendant to agree to any plea bargain.

Oyedepo added that the EFCC was not the only agency “on this matter”.

He noted that though the defendant was granted bail, investigations showed that he had another passport apart from the one he submitted to the court as part of his bail conditions, thereby not fully complying with the court’s order.

He said, “We have it on good authority that the defendant has a passport issued in Abuja on the 4th July 2021 to expire on the 30th June 2031.

“Armed with this passport, the information we have from our partners is that, on the 11th of April, 2022 via Emirates Airlines, the defendant flew from Ghana to Dubai.

“That passport was not the one that was submitted to this Honourable Court.”

Oyewole, however, responded that such facts ought to be presented on oath.

Justice Dada, upon seeing the soft copy of the data page of the said passport, held that the name, photo, and signature of the defendant on it were the same as the ones on the passport submitted to the court for the bail and also noted that it was “a serious issue”.

The defendant, who was shown the soft copy in open court, however, denied it was his passport.

Consequently, Justice Dada held that “the bail of the defendant is temporarily revoked until the issue of the passport is resolved.”

Oyewole, however, pleaded with the Court for one week for him to investigate it, noting that it was the Immigration Service that could speak to the existence of the passport in a case where another passport existed.

Justice Dada granted the prayer of the defence and also released the defendant to the defence counsel.

The case was adjourned till Thursday, June 16, 2022, for further trial.

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