Lagos Ikeja Special Crimes Court revoked the 200 million naira bail previously given to Lagos socialite Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, and issued a warrant for her arrest.
The judge, Mojisola Dada, revoked the bail following Mr. Mustapha’s persistent absence from court proceedings, the Commission of Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Earlier in the proceedings, the prosecution requested that the matter be temporarily adjourned until noon for the defendant to be present in court, EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren said in the statement.
But when the case was called back, the defendant was again absent from court, prompting the judge, Ms. Dada, to ask, “So where is the defendant?”
In response, Mr. Oyewole, a senior lawyer, who also expressed surprise at the development, told the court that he had been assured that the accused would be in court.
“I had his assurance until last night that he will be in court, and so I was waiting for him downstairs,” he said.
Mr. Oyewole further told the court that, following the defendant’s absence from the previous session, he went out of his way to ensure that the defendant was in court for the retrial.
In reaction, the prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, said: “If I say that this development is not shocking, it will be an understatement.
“Yesterday, the lead attorney argued with me and assured me that we must continue with this procedure today.”
Mr. Oyedepo then informed the court that “we have been able to present a plea agreement that he signed.”
However, he noted that the defense attorney seemed to have taken some action, adding that “it doesn’t seem to be getting any results.
“I urge your honor to issue a warrant for his arrest and for the presentation of the accused before your honor.”
Granting Mr. Oyedepo’s request, the judge ruled that “the defendant’s bail is once again revoked and a warrant issued for his arrest against the next postponed date of Thursday, June 30, 2022.”
Mompha has had several run-ins with the EFCC in the last two years related to allegations of money laundering and fraud. He has denied the charges.
He was indicted by the EFCC on January 12, 2022 for eight counts of conspiracy to launder funds obtained through illicit activities, withholding of proceeds from criminal conduct, laundering of funds obtained through illicit activities, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents that contain falsity and use of goods derived from an illegal act. It is said that more than N5 billion are involved.
On June 10, the judge had ordered the temporary revocation of the defendant’s bail, but released him with his lawyer, who asked for a week to investigate the prosecution’s allegation that the defendant obtained a different passport than the one presented to the court. court. as part of the conditions of his release on bail.
The prosecution told the court that the defendant used a new passport to travel from Ghana to Dubai, thus breaching the terms of his bail.
The continuation of the trial also stalled last Thursday, due to the absence of the accused.
The defense attorney, Mr. Oyewole, requested a retreat throughout the proceedings and assured the Court that his client will be there.