A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to release the items and properties seized from the Nigerian big boy Ismaila Mustapha popularly known as Mompha.
Justice Liman made this order while ruling on an application filed on the 6th of July by Mompha’s counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN).
Recall that the defendant is standing trial alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, on an amended twenty two-count charge bordering on cyber fraud and money laundering to the tune of 33bn Naira.
The EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo had told the judge that it had earlier released Mompha’s Air Pod and sunglasses when the application was filed but the other properties Mompha sought to be released to him were still with the commission for investigative purposes.
Ruling, however, Justice Mohammed Liman noted that although the commission 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.
“None of these items were listed as an exhibit, none of the items was 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. Failure to release the property is illegal.
As of today, no charge has been file regards the items. It is too long to withhold the applicant properties“, Justice Liman held
He then ordered the release and return of the items to the defendant, which include five luxury wrist watches, an apple iPod, an iPhone 8 device and a pair of sunglasses, among other items found on him on his arrest last October 19, in Abuja.
The defendant also applied for the release of his international passport, which was not opposed by the prosecution.