Alleged N6bn laundering: Fidelity bank staff testifies against Mompha

IKEJA- A Fidelity Bank  compliance officer, Mr Ezekoli Ozoemenam, on Monday testified  against a social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha (alias Mompha) charged with six billion Naira money laundering.

Ozoemenam, the fourth prosecution witness, was led  in evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel, Mr Suleiman Suleiman.

The witness testified about the package of an account of the bank allegedly  linked to Mompha.

The witness said that EFCC requested the account’s opening package and he responded to it.

“This is the Fidelity Bank opening package of the account that I sent to EFCC.

“It was printed from a perfectly working computer,” he said.

The prosecution, thereafter, tendered the document and prayed the court to admit it in evidence.

Defence counsel, Mr Kolawole Salami, told the court that he reserved his objection to the tendering of the document in evidence.

During cross-examination of the witness, Salami asked the witness whether he knew the branch of the bank  in which the account was opened.

Salami also asked the witness  if he was working at the bank’s headquarters at the time the account was opened in 2016.

The witness replied in the negative, adding that he was not at the headquarters.

“As at the time the account was opened, I was not at the headquarters.

“I was part of the internal control, and I moved from branch to branch, but I cannot remember which branch I was at, when the account was opened.

“Anomalies in bank accounts are reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and not EFCC but I do not know if the account was ever reported to  NFIU.

“I cannot speak to the nature of the transactions conducted through the account as I am not the relationship manager,” the witness said.

Counsel to EFCC, thereafter, appealed to the court for a witness summons to compel appearance of EFCC’s next witness.

The counsel  said that he needed the witness summons because the witness complained of feeling unsafe and receiving threats to his life.

Justice Mojisola Dada, however, said that it was the duty of prosecution to ensure appearance of its witnesses in court.

Dada  said: “There is no special cause placed before the court to warrant a witness summons.

“I do not know what position he is occupying that will make him feel threatened.

“If EFCC cannot secure his protection, how does a witness summons guarantee his protection?” the judge asked.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)  reports that Mompha is currently at large.

His trial in absentia started on June 3, 2023 when a compliance officer with Access Bank testified against him.

The court, on Sept. 21 2022, ordered  commencement of Mompha’s trial in absentia after he failed to appear before it severally.

 EFCC had, on Jan. 22, 2022, arraigned Mustapha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd., on eight counts bordering on six billion Naira laundering.

The court, on June 22, 2022, issued a bench warrant for his arrest following his absence in court.

The court also revoked bail it granted the defendant.

The social media celebrity was equally absent in court on June 26, 2022.

On  July 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.

The judge adjourned the case until July 1 for continuation of trial. (NAN)

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