The Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos, has revoked the N200 million bail earlier granted to Lagos socialite, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
The judge, Mojisola Dada, revoked the bail following Mr Mustapha’s persistent absence from court proceedings, the the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Earlier at the proceedings, the prosecution requested that the matter be temporarily stood until noon for the defendant to be present in court, EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said in the statement.
But when the case was re-called, the defendant was again absent from court, prompting the judge, Ms Dada, to ask: “So, where is the defendant?”
Responding, Mr Oyewole, a senior advocate, who also expressed surprise at the development, told the court that he was given the assurance that the defendant would be in court.
“I had his assurance until yesterday night that he will be in court, and that was why I was waiting downstairs for him,” he said.
Mr Oyewole further told the court that following the absence of the defendant at the previous sitting, he made efforts to ensure that the defendant was in court for the continuation of the trial.
Reacting, the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, said: “If I say that this development is not shocking, it will be an understatement.
“As of yesterday, the learned senior advocate discussed with me and assured me that we should continue today with this proceedings.”
Mr Oyedepo then informed the court that, “we’ve been able to file a plea bargain that he signed.”
He, however, noted that the defence counsel seemed to have taken some steps, adding that “it appears it is not yielding any results.
“I urge your lordship to issue a warrant for his arrest and for the production of the defendant before your lordship.”
Granting Mr Oyedepo’s request, the judge ruled that “The bail of the defendant is once again revoked and a bench warrant issued for his arrest against the next adjourned date of Thursday, 30th June 2022.”
Mompha has had several run-ins with the EFCC in the last two years involving allegations of money laundering and fraud. He has denied the charges.
He was arraigned by the EFCC, on January 12, 2022, on eight counts of allegations of conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents containing false pretence and use of property derived from an unlawful act. Over N5 billion is said to be involved.
The judge had, on June 10, ordered the temporary revocation of the defendant’s bail but released him to his counsel, who pleaded for one week to investigate the allegation by the prosecution that the defendant procured another passport different from the one submitted to the court, as part of conditions for his bail.
The prosecution told the court that the defendant used a new passport to travel from Ghana to Dubai thereby violating his bail terms.
The continuation of the trial was also stalled last Thursday, due to the absence of the defendant.
The defence lawyer, Mr Oyewole, had requested a stand-down throughout the proceedings and assured the Court that his client will be there.