November 30, 2023

Lagos High Court admits FBI report claiming Mompha used iPhone for alleged N6b fraud

In a significant development in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Mustapha, better known as Mompha, the Lagos High Court, located in the Ikeja area, has accepted two crucial documents into evidence provided by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

These documents contain an investigative report concerning the iPhone of the internet celebrity, implicating it in fraudulent activities.

*Trial Judge’s Decision*

During Monday’s proceedings, Justice Mojisola Dada, the trial judge, granted admission to the documents presented by the EFCC. The documents in question consist of a letter from the EFCC to the United States of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a report from the Bureau itself.

*Charges Against Mompha*

Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment, were arraigned by the EFCC on January 12, 2022, on an eight-count charge. These charges included conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, laundering of unlawfully obtained funds, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents with false pretenses, and using property derived from unlawful activities. These offenses are in violation of relevant sections of the Advance Fee Fraud Act of 2006 and the EFCC Act of 2004.

Among the charges, the defendants were accused of conspiring to launder unlawfully obtained funds, retaining such funds, transferring funds for a suspect known as Olayinka Jimoh, alias Nappy Boy, and unlawfully transferring funds for a record label, among other allegations. The EFCC also alleged that Mompha concealed his interest in expensive wristwatches and other movable assets valued at over N70 million.

*Mompha’s Plea and Objection*

Mompha pleaded not guilty to all eight counts, including the first six counts on behalf of his company, Islamob Limited. During Monday’s proceedings, Mompha’s counsel, led by Kolawole Salami, raised objections to the admissibility of the two documents as evidence.

Salami argued that these were public documents from the United States Consulate and required certification before they could be admitted, stating, “The documents are not certified true copies and should not be admitted in court.”

*Judge’s Ruling*

Justice Dada, however, overruled the defense counsel’s objection and upheld the arguments put forth by the prosecution, who contended that the FBI documents were original and did not require certification.

*EFCC’s Evidence and Testimony*

The EFCC’s counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, presented the two documents through his witness, Ayotunde Solademi, an FBI representative who appeared in court to testify about the Bureau’s forensic operation.

Solademi revealed that he had retrieved an iPhone belonging to Mompha with a Faraday bag.

Solademi’s testimony detailed the FBI’s forensic findings, which indicated that Mompha’s iPhone had been used for sending account details to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) telephone number, searching for Swift Codes of a bank, and having a compromised Microsoft 365 account. Additionally, the iPhone was used to change payment delivery from checks to wire transfers, with three attempts made, of which the third was successful.

*Cross-Examination and Key Revelations*

During cross-examination, defense counsel Salami pointed out a paragraph in the documents stating that they are not to be used in a legal proceeding except after a separate communication has been made. In response, Solademi clarified that his presence in court to give evidence served as a separate communication from the FBI, allowing for the use of the documents in court.

Solademi also admitted that he was not aware of whether the FBI had ever arrested Mompha and disclosed that the FBI’s forensic analysis of Mompha’s iPhone was commissioned at the request of the EFCC. However, the defense argued that Solademi could not confirm whether the iPhone he retrieved from the EFCC belonged to Mompha at the point of handover.

*Next Steps*

After the witness’s testimony, Justice Dada adjourned proceedings until November 1, 2023, for the continuation of Mompha’s trial, marking a significant development in this high-profile case of alleged financial misconduct and fraud.

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