Court orders EFCC to return all items seized from Mompha

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered anti-graft agency, EFCC to release all items seized from suspected fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha aka Mompha.

Mompha, who is accused of cyber fraud and laundering about N33billion, was arrested last October 2019, in Abuja and re-arraigned on March 4, 2020 on an amended 22-count charge.

The items seized from the acclaimed BDC operator include five luxury wristwatches, an apple iPod, an iPhone 8 device and a pair of sunglasses, which were among other items found on him on his arrest.

Justice Mohammed Liman of the federal high court made the order while ruling on a July 6 application filed by Mompha’s counsel, Gboyega Oyewole (SAN).
EFCC counsel Rotimi Oyedepo had told the judge that it had earlier released Mompha’s iPod and sunglasses when the application was filed. He said the other properties Mompha sought were still with the commission for investigative purposes.

Ruling on Friday, Justice Mohammed Liman noted that although the prosecution has the right to seize a property during an arrest, likewise a duty to approach the court for an interim order, due processes must be observed and failure to do this is considered illegal.
He noted further that the items had been with the EFCC for eight months already and none was listed as exhibit, nor listed on the charge.

"At this stage, there is nothing on record that the items seized is being investigated on. The retention of the property without compliance with due process violates the requirements of Section 29 of the Act," the judge held.

"Failure to release the property is illegal. As at today, no charge has been file regards the items. It is too long to withhold the applicant properties.”

Justice Liman therefore ordered the release and return of the items to the defendant.

The defendant also applied for the release of his international passport, which was not opposed by the prosecution.

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