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Mompha’s trial adjourned till July 1

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Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, May 20, 2024, adjourned the trial of Ismaila Mustapha, (a.k.a Mompha) till July 1, 2024 just as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, presented its fifth witness, EFCC, PW5, Ezekoli Ozoemenam, a staff of Fidelity Bank Plc.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had on January 12, 2022 arraigned Mompha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, 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 pretences and use of property derived from unlawful act.

One of the counts read: “Ismaila Mustapha, Ahmadu Mohammed (at large) and Ismalob Global Investment Limited, sometime in 2016, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves to conduct financial transactions to the tune of N5,998,884,653.18 ( Five Billion Nine Hundred and Ninety-eight Million,  Eight Hundred and Eighty-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-three Naira Eighteen Kobo), with the intent of promoting the carrying on of specified unlawful activities to wit: obtaining by false pretence.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

On September 22, 2022, Justice Dada ordered that the trial of Mompha would continue in absentia, after he jumped bail.

At Monday’s proceedings, Ozoemenam, a compliance officer with the bank, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, S.I. Suleiman, told the court that the bank received requests from the EFCC as part of the EFCC’s investigation.

“We received request from the EFCC for the account opening package of the defendant, to which we responded,”  he said.

He, thereafter, identified the correspondence between the bank and the EFCC, when a copy was shown to him in open court.

“This is the same document which we provided to the EFCC and it was printed from a perfectly working computer system,” he said.

The prosecution then tendered the documents containing the account opening package and urged the court to admit them into evidence.

However, defence counsel, Kolawole Salami, said he would reserve his objection to the application.

Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that the account was opened in 2016, “and as at that time, I was part of the internal control, and I moved from branch to branch.”

He further testified that anomalies in bank accounts are reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The case has been adjourned till July 1, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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Crime

Alleged N1.84bn fraud: ICPC arraigns REA Finance Director, Sambo

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), on Monday, arraigned Abubakar Sambo, Director of Finance and Account of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) for alleged fraud to the tune of N1.84 billion.

Sambo was arraigned before Justice Bolaji Olajuwon of a Federal High Court, Abuja on three-count charge for allegedly diverting the funds to personal accounts.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts and ICPC’s counsel, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, prayed the court for a trial date.

But Sambo’s lawyer, Isiaka Dikko, SAN, informed the court of the defendant’s bail application which had already been filed.

Since Akponimisingha did not oppose the bail plea, Justice Olajuwon admitted Sambo.to a N200 million bail with two sureties in the like sum.

The judge held that the sureties must have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court with original certificates of occupancy (CofO) which must be deposited with the deputy chief registrar of the court.

She equally ordered that sureties to provide affidavits of their tax clearance in the last three years with a one passport photograph each.

Justice Olajuwon adjourned the matter until Oct. 17 for trial commencement.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the anti-corruption commission had, in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/209/2024, sued Abubakar Abdullahi Sambo as sole defendant.

In the charge dated May 8 but filed May 10 by Akponimisingha, an Assistant Chief Legal Officer in the commission, the ICPC alleged that Sambo sometime in March 2023 or thereabout while being the Payment Finalizer on the Government integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform of REA did finalise the payment of the totai sum of N1.84 billion (N1,835,000,000.00).

It alleged that the funds were done in different tranches for the use of Henrrientta Onomen Okojie, Asuni Adejoke Aminat, Usman Kwakwa, Laure Shehu Abduilahi, Emmanuel Pada Titus and Musa Umar Karaye for a purported project supervision exercise without requisite approval, thereby contributing to the economic adversity of the REA.

The commission said the offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 68 of the Public Enterprise Regulatory Commission Act, CAP. P39, Laws of the Federation, 2004.

In count two, Sambo was accused to have used his access password to access the REA’s GIFMIS platform and finalised the payment of the sum of N1.84 billion in different tranches for the use of Okojie, Aminat, Kwakwa, Abdullahi, Titus and Karaye for a purported project supervision exercise without authority.

The offence was said to be contrary to and punishable under Section 6(4) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act, 2015.

In count three, Sambo was alleged to have conferred corrupt advantage on Okojie, Aminat, Kwakwa, Abdullahi, Titus and Karaye when he used his access password to access the REA’s GIFMIS platform and finalised the payment of N1.84 billion in different tranches for their use for a purported project supervision exercise without requisite approvals.

The ICPC said the offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

NAN reports that Justice Emeka Nwite of a sister court had earlier ordered the remand of Karaye, Titus and Okojie after they were arraigned by the ICPC on separate four-count charge preferred against them.

While Karaye and Titus were arraigned before Justice Nwite on June 13, Okojie was arraigned on June 14.

However, the fourth official, Usman Ahmed Kwakwa, who was arraigned alongside on June 13, also on separate criminal charge before the judge, was granted N50 million bail on same day.

Meanwhile, after the arraignment of Karaye, Titus and Okojie, Justice Nwite ordered for their remand and fixed today for the ruling on their bail applications.

Upon resumed hearing on Monday, Justice Nwite equally admitted the trio to a N50 million bail with sureties in the like sum.

The judge, who ordered that the first surety must be a landed property owner with original CofO within the jurisdiction of the court, directed that the documents should be deposited with the deputy chief registrar of the court.

He held that the second surety must be a responsible citizen and must sworn to an affidavit of means.

Nwite adjourned the matter until July 10 for trial.

In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/203/24 filed against Okojie, she was alleged to have in count one, sometime in March 2023 or thereabout, with intent to defraud the REA, received the sum of N342 million in different tranches through her Access Bank Account: 0009022275 under the false pretence of project supervision.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 1(1)(a) and punishable under Section 1(3) of the Advance Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.

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Customs intercepts 26,792 litres of petrol in Badagry

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A Team of Operation Whirlwind Task Force, has intercepted over 26,792 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), known as petroleum, in Badagry.

Comptroller Huseein Ejibunu, the Head, Operation Whirlwind, disclosed this at a news briefing on Monday in Seme, Lagos.

“Our team, acting on credible intelligence reports, intercepted 43 kegs of petrol 30 litres each equivalent of 1,290 litres.

“One Mark tanker truck with chassis no: IMIAD3840TWO03697 containing 15, 200 litres of petrol was also intercepted at Jubau filling station along Seme Badagry road.

“On June 14, one Suzuki salon car with registration number SMK 83 Bk, used as means of conveyance was seized.

“One Pathfinder Jeep with Reg no: ABJ 591 DC and one Toyota Avensis with Reg no: 1973 with both specially built Bunkers were loaded with petrol at Muse filling station were also intercepted.

“Though, we are yet to ascertain the litres in each of the vehicles.

“Another 124 kegs of petrol 30 litres each equivalent to 3,720 litres and 65 kegs of petrol of 40 litres each equivalent to 2,600 litres,” he said.

He said that another 189 kegs of petrol was intercepted at Timi Boy Global Venture on June 19.

“The total petrol intercepted is over 26, 792 litres of petrol,” he said.

He said that since formation, Operation Whirlwind team had made tremendous impact in all the zones based on statistically verified records and value of PMS intercepted.

“For clarity and record purposes, the team had intercepted 26, 950 litres of PMS worth NI9 million in our maiden edition news conference held at Customs Command Abeokuta barely two weeks after inauguration.

“In a similar development, the teams’ efforts geared toward curtailing the menace of illegal smuggling of PMS product in zone ‘A’ axis, all resulted in the interception of 21, 810 Litres of PMS product.

‘The devastating effects of smuggling are numerous as it causes distortion in supply chain of petroleum products to designated states and filling stations revealed based on credible intelligence.

“In most instances, petroleum products were diverted to neighboring countries.

“However, this unwholesome practice contributes tremendously to insecurity as diverted petroleum products were to be used by bandits and other notorious groups undermining the integrity of our nation,” he said.

The Operation Whirlwind was conceived by Comptroller General of Customs,  Adewale Adeniyi, in collaboration with the National Security Adviser in May 2024, to put an end to incessant smuggling of petrol.

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Crime

24 Nigerian girls rescued from sexual exploitation in Senegal

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By Matthew Denis

In a collaborative effort, the Nigerian Embassy in Dakar and a prominent non-governmental organisation (NGO) have rescued 24 Nigerian girls from Sexual exploitation in Senegal.

The operation, which took place in the Tamaccounda and Kedougou regions, marks a significant victory in the ongoing fight against human trafficking and exploitation in West Africa.

It was gathered that the victims, mostly girls and women aged between 11 and 24, but predominantly underage girls, were trafficked to Senegal through Cotonou, Benin Republic, via the Mali-Senegal border for sexual exploitation.

The Acting Ambassador of the Nigerian Embassy in Dakar,Salihu Abubakar disclosed this on Sunday, June 23, 2024.

“These girls and many more are being trafficked to Senegal through Cotonou, Benin Republic via Mali to the Senegal border for prostitution,” Abubakar explained.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the majority of the girls and women were school dropouts from Edo and Delta states, with a few others from Imo, Abia, and two from Plateau.

Abubakar confirmed that out of the 24 girls and women, 22 had been repatriated weeks earlier, while the remaining two returned safely to Nigeria on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the health status of the victims and details regarding the duration of their exploitation remain undisclosed.

However, the diplomat emphasised that the successful repatriation highlights the strong international cooperation between the embassy and the NGO, “Free the Slaves” (La Lumiere in French), in combating human trafficking.

“Our main goal and number one priority is to discourage the trafficking of our Nigerian girls to any part of the world for prostitution under any guise,” he said.

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