By Michael Ojo
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), and lawyer to celebrity cybercrime, and social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha(Mompha) on Wednesday trade words before a Federal High Court on issues bothering on adjournment of trial.
While EFCC lawyer, S.I Suleiman wanted an adjournment, defence lawyer, Gboyega Oyewole SAN disagreed, saying such adjournment is unwarranted.
The trial judge, Justice Mohammed Liman of Federal High Court, Lagos, however granted EFCC prayers and adjourn further trial to July 10, 2020 for EFCC to present its remaining witness in the case.
Mustapha, alias Mompha, is accused of cyber fraud and laundering N33billion. He and his firm, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, were on March 4, 2020 re-arraigned before Justice Liman on 22 counts.
They were first arraigned on a 14-count count charge last November 25, following his arrest last October 19, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
According to the anti-graft agency, the defendant is based in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Commission alleged that Mompha is a major figure in an organised transnational cyber fraud network, adding that he used Ismalob Investment to launder the funds, part of which he used in acquiring properties in Dubai.
Mompha pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, an accountant, Abiodun Audu, testified for the prosecution.
Led by EFCC counsel Mr S. I. Suleiman, Mr Audu said he never met Mompha in the course of filing Ismalob Global Investment Ltd’s tax return. He told the judge that it was one Alhaji Hamodu, a director in Mompha’s firm, that contacted him to file the tax returns for the company.
Hamodu, he said, required him to input July 2016 to June 2017, in the tax return to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The witness testified that it was at the EFCC that the document relating to the tax return was shown to him, when he was invited there in 2020.
During cross examination by Mompha’s counsel, Mr. Oyewole said Hamodu, a Bureau De Change operator, supplied the information on the company’s self assessment form.
But during re-examination by the EFCC, Audu said both Hamodu and Mompha’s signatures were on the company’s tax self-assessment form.