The Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area has admitted two documents into evidence tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) containing an investigative report on the iPhone of Internet celebrity Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, claiming it was used for fraudulent practices.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, admitted the documents tendered by the EFCC at the proceedings on Monday. The reports are a letter by the EFCC to the United States of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a report by the Bureau.
On January 12, 2022, the EFCC arraigned Mompha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment, on an eight-count charge bordering on 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.
The offence is contrary to relevant sections of the Advance Fee Fraud Act of 2006 and the EFCC Act of 2004.
In the counts, the defendants were accused of conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of such funds, transfer of funds for a suspect Olayinka Jimoh, popularly known as Nappy Boy, and unlawful transfer of funds for a record label, among others.
The EFCC also alleged that Mompha concealed his interest in expensive wristwatches and other movable assets valued at over N70 million.
Mompha pleaded not guilty to the eight counts. He also pleaded not guilty to the first six counts on behalf of his company, Islamob Limited.
At the proceedings today, Mompha’s counsel led by Kolawole Salami objected to the admissibility of the two documents as evidence, saying they were public documents from the United States Consulate which required certification before they could be admitted.
“The documents are not certified true copies, and should not be admitted in court,” Salami told the Judge.
Justice Dada, however, overruled the defence counsel’s objection and upheld the arguments of the prosecution who maintained that the FBI documents were original.
“The documents do not require certification,” Dada ruled.
The EFCC counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, had tendered the two documents through his witness, one Ayotunde Solademi, an FBI representative, who was in court to give evidence of the Bureau’s forensic operation.
Solademi, who works at the Legal Attaché office of the FBI in Nigeria, told the court that he had retrieved an iPhone belonging to Mompha with a Faraday bag.
Solademi said the FBI’s forensic operations revealed Mompha’s iPhone was used to send account details to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) telephone number, search for Swift Codes of a bank, and had a compromised Microsoft 365 account.
“The [Mompha’s] iPhone had a compromised Microsoft 365 account and attackers used a fraudulent domain to socially engineer communication to their [Mompha’s] company,” the FBI representative told the court.
The prosecution witness also told the court that the FBI discovered during analysis that Mompha’s iPhone was also used to change payment delivery from cheque to wire transfer.
“The [iPhone] was used to make three attempts to transfer funds. The first two failed, but the third was successful,” Solademi said.
Under cross-examination, the defence counsel, Salami, read from a paragraph of the documents which stated that the FBI documents are not to be used in a legal proceeding except after a separate communication has been made.
The prosecution witness, Solademi, in his response, said his presence in court to give evidence amounts to a separate communication from the FBI that allows for the use of the documents in court.
While answering other questions from the defence counsel, the witness admitted that he was not aware whether the FBI ever arrested the defendant.
He also disclosed that the FBI forensic analysis of Mompha’s iPhone was commissioned at the request of the EFCC.
The defence counsel however argued that the FBI representative could not confirm whether the iPhone he retrieved from the EFCC belonged to the defendant, Mompha, at the point of handover.
After the testimony, Justice Dada adjourned proceedings till November 1, 2023 for the continuation of Mompha’s trial.