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Internet Celebrity, Mompha Sues EFCC Over Fresh Arrest, Detention

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The internet celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, has dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before a Lagos Federal High Court, demanding his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the sum of N5 million as damages.

He is also asking the court for a declaration that his arrest and detention at the instance of the EFCC since August 14, 2020, is unlawful, unjustifiable, unconstitutional and a breach of his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). And a declaration that his continuous/further detention by the EFCC, without any Justification and without being charged or of arraigned before a Court of competent jurisdiction is unconstitutional and constitutes a gross fundamental right to personal liberty and fair hearing as contained in Section 35 (4) & (5) and Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). 

Mompha also wants the court to declare that the continuous seizure and confiscation of his personal items/belongings to wit; Five Wristwatches; One Apple Airpod; One Iphone 8; and Sun glasses, earlier ordered to be released to by an Order of Court made on July, 24, 2020 in Charge No: FHC/L/413c/2019 is unlawful, unjustifiable, unconstitutional and constitutes a gross violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right to own property as contained in Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). 

He further wants the court to make an order directing the EFCC to comply with the Order of Court made on the July 24, 2020 in Charge No: FHC/L/413c/2019, by immediately releasing his personal items/belongings to him to wit; Five Wristwatches; One Apple Airpod; One Iphone 8; and Sun glasses. 

Mompha also begged the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC or any person whatsoever acting for or on its behalf, from arresting and detaining him in relation to the subject of this suit without recourse to due process of law. 

Mompha’s fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC, was filed by his teams of lawyers, who include Mr. Gboyega Oyewole (SAN); Ademola Adefolaju; Kolawole Salami and three others.

The suit marked FHC/L/CS/1106/2020, according to his lawyers, was pursuant to sections 34; 35; 36; 44 and 46(1)(2) of the constitution of Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Order 2 Rules (1)-(5) and Order six of the fundamental rights (enforcement procedure) Rule 2009 and under inherent jurisdiction of the court. 

It would be recalled the the internet personality was allegedly arrested last week Friday, by the operatives of the EFCC, after he had gone to their office on Awolowo road, Ikoyi, Lagos, to reclaimed his seized items, which Justice Muhammad Liman, ordered to be released to him.

Mompha in a 16 paragraph-affidavit in suppprt of the application, deposed to by one Kayode Adeboye, a Litigation Clerk in the law firm of Lords and Temple Attorneys, stated that he was informed by Ademola Adefolaju, Esq, one of the Counsel representing the applicant on August 17, 2020, in their office, that the Applicant is a Nigerian businessman and first defendant in a criminal matter pending before Hon. Justice Liman of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos between Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Ismaila Mustapha and Another, with charge no: FHC/L/413C/2019.

The deponent averred that the Court in that matter had on November 29, 2019 granted bail to the Applicant herein, pending the final determination of the matter. And that one of the conditions of the bail granted to the applicant by the Honourable Court in Charge No: FHC/L/413C/2019 was that the Applicant should report to the Respondent’s office every fortnight (two weeks) and the Applicant has always reported at the Respondent’s office as directed by the Honourable Court without defaulting. Adding that the applicant has not for once jumped bail, neither has he violated any of the conditions of bail granted nor has he ever been absent in court throughout the course of proceedings which is still ongoing. 

He stated that consequent upon the grant of bail to the applicant and the commencement of trial, the respondent in the above referred charge, amended the charges against the Applicant twice. And that upon the second amendment of the charges filed against the applicant on March 3, 2020, the Respondent has not raised any new charges or further amendment against the Applicant before the Court or any other Court of law in Nigeria. 

He stated that the EFCC had closed its case in charge no: FHC/L/413C/2019, on July 17, 2020, ten (10) months after his arrest, conclusion of investigation and arraignment before a court of competent jurisdiction, no fresh charges had been proffered against the applicant by the EFCC. And that 10 witnesses had been called by the EFCC as prosecution witness in Charge No: FHC/L/413C/2019 in proof of the charges against the Applicant, all of whom were thoroughly cross-examined by the applicant’s counsel and thereafter the Respondent’s closed its case and a No Case Submission was filed on behalf of the Applicant. 

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