The Economic and social financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told an Ikeja Special Offences Court on Friday that the social media celebrity Ismaila Mustapha (alias Mompha) flouted the court’s order and travelled to Dubai with a new Nigerian passport.
Mr Mustapha is charged with N6 billion money laundering by EFCC.
The court had, on March 28, ordered Mr Mustapha to submit his passport to court after his bail was reduced from N200 million to N25 million. EFCC, on January 12, charged him and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, with money laundering. The eight-count charge includes conspiracy to launder money obtained through unlawful activities and laundering money obtained through unlawful activities.
The other charges include 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.
“My lord granted bail to the defendant and ordered him to submit his international passport (sic). The commission is not the only one on this matter, and we had from a good authority that the defendant has a passport with No. D50084304, which was issued in Abuja on July 2021 and is to expire on June 30, 2031,” EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo told the court on Friday. “From the information by our partner, the defendant had on April 11 hired Emirates and flew from Ghana to Dubai. That passport is not the one submitted to this honourable court, my lord. The defendant did not travel through Nigeria. The issue now is that the defendant has a new passport at hand, which he travelled with after my lord restricted him from travelling.”
The defence counsel, Gboyega Oyewole, objected to the prosecution’s submission and argued that EFCC should write to Nigeria Immigration Service to ascertain the claim.
“I have spoken with the prosecution concerning this, my lord. When he called, I told him that there was a particular person who was our surety that was supposed to pay the N25 million. His account was frozen when the money got into his account. The man called the defendant, and for the defendant’s safety, he told the man that he had travelled. But the man has connection and concluded that the defendant had defied the court order,” explained Mr Oyewole. “My lord, the EFCC should write to Immigration to ascertain if my client really travelled out of the country or not. This is a superior court of record, sir, and I suggest that an application be brought concerning this because there is a lot of confusion here. We should have it on record, my lord.
“Let Immigration respond if another passport exists. The residency visa that he has to live in Dubai is already submitted in court, so there is no way he can enter the country.”
A photocopy of the passport was shown to the defendant, and he denied the signature on it.
The EFCC counsel urged the court to stand down the case for 10 minutes to discuss with the defence counsel. The defence counsel, after that, asked the court to grant him one week to verify the prosecution’s claim.
“We have had discussions within ourselves and also spoken with the prosecution. In the interest of justice, we have agreed with the prosecution to give me one week to verify the truth. I need to verify the truth, my lord,” added Mr Oyewole.
The prosecution did not object to the submission of the defence counsel.
On June 2, the court had fixed June 10 to take the final report on the defendant’s plea bargain.
The prosecution had informed the court on April 6 that both parties were considering a plea bargain and asked the court for more time.
Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until June 16 for further consideration of bail application and ordered the defendant to be in the custody of the defence counsel.