By Robert Egbe
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has named internet celebrity, Ismail Mustapha, alias Mompha, in its amended N157.1million fraud charge filed against an auto dealer, Sarumi Babafemi, alias 606.
Mompha has since November 25, 2019 been facing a separate 14-count N32.9 billion money laundering charge before Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court (FHC) in Lagos.
Babafemi is the Chief Executive Officer of 606 Autos Ltd; 606 Music Ltd and Splash Off Entertainment Ltd.
He and his firms have since November 1, 2019 been on trial a five-count charge before Justice Chuka Obiozor of the FHC for allegedly laundering N207.1million.
Babafemi was accused by the EFCC of being an agent of fraud suspects named by the United State’s Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI), an allegation he denied.
But, Monday, the EFCC brought an amended nine-count charge of January 22, 2021 against Babafemi, Mompha and two others, before Justice Chukwujeku Aneke.
The others listed in the charge marked FHC/L/CS/374c/2019, are: Ridwan Momodu Allison, a.k.a. Osama said to be at large and Richard Ogbah.
Babafemi, Mompha, Ridwan and Richard, were alleged to have laundered N157.1 million.
The beneficiaries of the said funds are: Omojadesola Shittu Allison; Olandewaju Oriyomi; Abiola Kayode Ayorinde; Bartholomew Oluchukwu Ezeudoka and Amobi Uchenna E., who were said to have received the sums of N37.6 million; N93 million; N1.5 million and N25 million respectively.
Babafemi and his firms were also accused of concealing and disguising the origins of the funds he allegedly laundered for Mompha and others.
The offences, according to the EFCC, contravened sections 15(2)(b) and 15(3)(a) and were punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).
But the scheduled re-arraignment and trial of Babafemi and his firms on the fresh charge could not go on.
EFCC counsel, Ayanfe Ogunshina, prayed the court to allow the charge to be read to the defendants for so they could take their plea.
He sought permission to proceed with the trial, as one of his five witnesses was in court and ready to testify.
But defence counsel, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), opposed the application, on the ground that the amended charge was served on them while they were in court.
Banire also told the court that in the event that it was inclined to take his clients’ plea, he would need to study the charge before trial proceeded.
In deciding the parties’ submissions and with their agreement, Justice Aneke adjourned till April 21, 22 and 23.
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