The federal high court in Lagos has ordered that suspected internet fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha, to be remanded in the prison custody.
Justice Mohammed Liman made the remand order on Monday shortly after Mompha was arraigned before him on 14 counts bordering on fraud, money laundering and running a foreign exchange business without the authorisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
In the charges against him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission alleged that Mompha procured one Ismalob Global Investment Limited and retained in its bank account an aggregate of N32.9bn between 2015 and 2018.
The EFCC said Mompha “ought to have reasonably known that the money formed part of proceeds of unlawful act, to wit: fraud.”
Among other things, the Internet celebrity was also accused of negotiating foreign exchange transactions of various sums with various persons when he was not an authorised seller appointed by the CBN.
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said Mompha acted contrary to sections 5 and 29(1)(c) of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous (Provision) Act Cap F34 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and he was liable to be punished under Section 29(2) of the same Act.
When the charges were read to him, however, Mompha pleaded not guilty.
While praying for a date for commencement of trial, the prosecution urged Justice Liman to order that the defendant be remanded in the prison custody.
The defence counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), said he was not opposed to the application for trial date but said he had already filed a bail application for his client and served same on the prosecution.
The prosecution confirmed that it had been served with the bail application but said it required time to read and respond to it.
Justice Liman adjourned till Friday, November 29, to take arguments on the bail application and for trial to commence.
Meanwhile, the prosecution applied that the judge issue summonses on some of its listed witnesses, including the Director of Trade and Exchange Department at the CBN, Ahmed Umar; and Enu Matthew of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering, Ministry of Trade, among others.