By Aluta News
Nov. 1, 2023
The trial of the social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha (alias Mompha), charged with six billion Naira money laundering, before an Ikeja Special Offences Court, was stalled due to the absence of prosecution witness.
When the case was called on Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Counsel, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, informed the court that the prosecution’s next witness was not in the country.
Buhari also urged the court to allow the witness to give his evidence via virtual hearing.
“My lord, we are sorry our witness could not make it to court today because he is out of the country for a training.
“We, however, apply that the witnesses evidence be taken virtually,”she said
The defence counsel, Mr Kolawole Salami, however objected to the prosecution submission.
Salami argued that the prosecution had ample time to prepare and brought their witnesses.
“My lord, the prosecution had enough time to prepare and bring their witnesses only to make application for virtual hearing this morning without any notification.
“We ask that their oral application be dismissed,”Salami said.
Justice Mojisola Dada overruled the submission of the prosecution and adjourned the case until Dec. 19 for continuation of trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that EFCC had on Sept. 18 tendered some of documents through an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, Mr Ayotunde Solademi against Mompha.
The documents were reports by the FBI and an investigative report on Mompha’s iPhone which the agency claimed was used for fraudulent activities.
NAN also reports that Mompha’s trial in absentia started on June 3 when a compliance officer with Access Bank testified against him.
Prosecution had informed the court on May 15 that it had secured his in collaboration with its international partners.
The court, on Sept. 21 ordered the commencement of trial of the defendant in absentia after he failed to appear before it.
The EFCC had, on Jan. 22, arraigned Mustapha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd., on eight counts bordering on six billion Naira laundering.
The court had, on June 22, issued a bench warrant for his arrest following his absence in court.
Dada also revoked the bail she granted the defendant.
The social media celebrity was equally absent in court on June 16.
On June 10, EFCC accused him of flouting the court’s order by travelling to Dubai with a new international passport.
The charges against Mompha include conspiracy to launder money obtained through unlawful activities, and laundering of money obtained through unlawful activities.
The others are 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.