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Mompha, On Trial For N5.998 Billion Fraud, Breaches Bail Terms, Procures New Nigerian Passport, Travels To Dubai Via Ghana

Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha, has breached the terms of his bail by procuring a new passport and travelling to Dubai on 11 April, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo has told the Ikeja High Court.

Oyedepo told Justice Mojisola Dada in whose court, Mompha, with his company Ismalob Global Investment Limited, was standing trial that though the defendant was granted bail, investigation 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.

The Instagram celebrity and businessman was arraigned by the Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on January 12, 2022.

According to the EFCC prosecuting counsel, “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.”

The defence counsel, Gboyega Oyewole, SAN, 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 with 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.

Justice Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, adjourned till June 16, 2022, further hearing in the case.

Mompha was arraigned 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 act.

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 Nine Hundred 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 charge.

At Friday’s sitting, which was fixed by the Court for “definite final report” on the plea bargain being explored by both parties, the prosecuting counsel, 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, Oyewole, 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.

“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, 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”.

The case was adjourned till June 16, 2022.

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