A Lebanese identified as Hamza Koudeih and two others suspected to be accomplices of Dubai-based Nigerian social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha a.k.a Mompha has been arrested by men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Operatives of the anti-graft agency arrested Koudeih after a three-hour stand-off at his N1.8 billion luxury apartment in the 33-storey Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, Victoria Island, Lagos. It was learned that he and his wife refused to open the door to their apartment and also refused to respond to appeals by the building’s chief security officer.
The suspect who alongside Mompha and other arrested suspects are allegedly kingpins of a network of cybercriminals who laundered N33 billion through three firms, lived in an apartment which was fortified with triple reinforced fire-proof door and closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, making it difficult for the operatives to gain entrance.
However after EFCC operatives gained access into the apartment after trying to break down the door with breaching tools, his wife claimed that her husband had escaped through the window even though they lived on the topmost floor.
Koudeih was found hiding in the ceiling and a fire-proof safe containing different charms and talismans in calabashes was uncovered after a search was conducted in his bedroom.
“Our officials knew that he was still inside and they were even hoping to persuade him not to jump out through the window because it would be suicide,” EFCC Lagos Zonal Head, Mr. Mohammed Rabo, who confirmed the arrest, told The Nation.
Two luxury cars were recovered from the suspect who claimed the charms were his “prayer objects”.
Koudeih and his wife’s immigration status are currently being investigated. Local and international law enforcement agencies are said to have indicated interest to collaborate in the investigation.
Rhe Lagos zonal head of the EFCC, Mohammed Rabo said the operation that led to Koudeih’s arrest was “an offshoot of the collaboration between the EFCC and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),” but that Koudeih was arrested based on “purely EFCC intelligence”.
Rabo added: “Actionable intelligence received from local and international law enforcement agencies had revealed that Koudeih and Mompha alongside their collaborators are high valued targets in Organised Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN).
“Investigations have also revealed that Mompha uses a firm known as Ismalob Global Investments Limited to perpetrate about N14 billion money laundering while Koudeih also operates two firms namely: THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited to launder about N19 billion.”
An update on Mompha’s arrest also revealed that 51 bank accounts he allegedly uses for money laundering has been uncovered. The five wristwatches recovered from him after his arrest on Tuesday, October 22, has been found to be worth over N60 million rather than the N20 million earlier thought.