Court Orders Mompha To Open Defence On Money Laundering Charges
A Lagos Federal High Court, yesterday, dismissed the no- case application filed by an internet celebrity Ismaila Mustapha aka Mompha, who is currently facing a 22 count criminal charge of money laundering, brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Consequently, the court presided over by Justice Muhammed Liman, has ordered him to open his defence against the charges.
In dismissing Mompha’s application, Justice Liman in his ruling held that “from the totality of the evidence and testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the court is convinced that the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the defendants which would warrant the defendants to give explanation”.
The trial judge therefore called on Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, to open their defence.
The EFCC, in amended 22 counts charge, had alleged that between 2015 and 2018, Mompha procured Ismalob Global Investment Limited to retain an aggregate of N32.95 billion, in its bank account.
The EFCC said he ought to have reasonably known that the funds formed parts of proceeds of an unlawful act; to wit: fraud.
The anti-graft agency also alleged that Mompha’s company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, as a Designated Non-Financial Institution (DNFI), failed to report to the EFCC within seven days huge single lodgments and transfers such as N104.8m, N135m, N20m, N150m, N22.3m, N100m and N42m.
The EFCC further stated that not being an authorised buyer of foreign exchange currency appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mompha negotiated several foreign exchange transactions with different individuals in the sums of N20m, N22.3m, N30m, N100m, and N40.7m. And also made cash cash payments of €299,000, €213,675, €273,000 to one Ahmed Sarki, said to be deceased.
These offences were said to be contrary to Section 18(c), 15(2)(d), 15(3), and Section 10 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. And sections 5 and 29(1)(c) of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous (Provisions) Act Cap F34 LFN 2004.
But Mompha and his company , have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During the trial of the charge, the EFCC called 10 witnesses and tendered several documents, which were admitted by the court.
However, instead of Mompha to open his defence against the charges, he opted for no-case-submission, which was filed and argued by his lawyer, Oyewole (SAN) leading Adefolaju Ademola and Kolawole Salami, asked court to dismiss the charges against his client.
Oyewole argued that despite calling 10 witnesses and tendering a load of documents, the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against his client and his company.
But the EFCC counsel, S.I. Suleiman, vehemently opposed Oyewole’s request, while insisted that the his agency had substantiated its allegations against them.