Following his pleading not guilty to a 14-count charge of money laundering, unauthorised forex trade and failure to comply with government’s trade and exchange policy, a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday remanded a suspected money launderer, Ismaila Mustapha (aka Mompha) over his arraignment for alleged N33 billion fraud.
This is even as the prosecution application to the court for a summons to be issued to several witnesses, including a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Director of Trade and Exchange, Mr Ahmed Umar, was granted by the court
The 14-count charge was filed against Mompha, an Internet celebrity, and the second defendant, Islamob Global Investments Ltd, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
During his arraignment on Monday, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the accused laundered the funds through the second defendant, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, between 2015 and 2018.
Based on his plea, the prosecutor prayed the court, presided over by Justice Mohammad Liman, to remand the defendant in prison custody. However, he applied for a trial date.
In his response, the Defence counsel Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), did not object the prayer of the prosecution but observed that Mompha had been in unlawful detention for 42 days without trial.
The counsel told the court that the defence had already filed a bail application, a position which was confirmed by the prosecution counsel, who prayed for a short date to respond.
Oyedepo applied for a summons to be issued to several witnesses, including a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Director of Trade and Exchange, Mr Ahmed Umar,and this was granted by the court
Following the submissions of the parties, Justice Liman fixed Friday, 29 November for hearing of the bail application and commencement of trial.
In its suit, the EFCC alleged that the defendants laundered the funds in tranches of N18,059,353,413 billion and N14,946,773,393.00 billion.
It accused the two defendants, not being a financial institution, or an authorised foreign exchange dealer, negotiated a foreign exchange transaction in the sums of N9.416million, N20 million, N10,437,400.00, N10miillion, N2.46million, N10miillion, N100million, N61million, N100million, N40.7million and N42million.
It would be recalled that the anti graft commission arrested Mompha on October 19 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and was remanded in the commssion’s custody following a court order.
Only last Thursday, the accused sued the anti-graft agency for N5 million, alleging wrongful detention by the agency.