A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered EFCC to release all items seized from BDC operator, Ismaila Mustapha aka Mompha.
The items 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 last October 19, in Abuja.
Justice Liman made the order while ruling on a July 6 application filed by Mompha’s counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN).
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. He said the other properties Mompha sought were still with the commission for investigative purposes.
Mompha 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 N33bn.
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.
Liman held: “None of these items was listed as 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 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.