A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has granted an order of interim forfeiture of 11 high-end designer items confiscated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from Internet celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha.
The items – five luxury sunglasses, five luxury wristwatches, and an iPhone 8 – were seized from Mompha when he was arrested by the EFCC on October 19, 2019, at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
The glasses Dsquared, Tomford – TF586, Cartier – B17C76B, Montblanc – MB0045S, and Louis Vuitton- Z1186E, while the watches are Rolex Oyster Perpetual, Audemars Piguet, Audemars Piguet – J46220; XY Hublot – 1321920; and an XY Hublot- 924206.
Justice Lewis Allagoa granted the order of interim forfeiture on Friday after hearing an ex-parte application argued by EFCC counsel, Chinenye Ugwoke.
He ruled that the order subsists pending the EFCC’s investigation of Mompha and his company Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, both listed as respondents in the suit.
Since November 2019, Mompha and Ismalob Global Investment have been facing 14 charges bordering on allegations of laundering N32.9 billion.
The EFCC supported its application with an affidavit by an investigating officer with the anti-graft agency’s Advance Fee Fraud Section (AFF) section, Mr Bot Dachung.
“The purpose of this application is to prevent the respondents from tempering and/or dissipating the properties listed in the schedule to this application which are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities,” Dachung stated.
“If the properties listed in the schedule to this application are not temporarily and timeously forfeited, efforts of the ongoing investigation relating to internet/cyber-related crimes and possible prosecution would be brought to a nought.”
The EFCC told the judge that the items were “found in the possession of the first respondent (Mompha), which property/asset is reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities and presently in the lawful custody of the applicant.”
According to the agency, a preliminary investigation revealed various intelligence reports linking Mompha with chains of internet/cybercrime activities.
It further alleged that there “have been concerted ongoing investigation activities against the respondents with respect to the first respondent’s (alleged) involvement in cybercrime activities.”
“The properties listed in the schedule to this application were recovered from the first respondent upon his arrest by the operatives of the applicant, hence this application.
“That efforts and attempts have been made by the first respondent through his legal representatives to retrieve the said properties listed in the schedule to this application,” the EFCC said.