Over the weekend, while some of us were busy turning up and chilling, a three hour action thriller was playing out at the Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, Victoria Island, Lagos. A lebanese man, Hamza Koudeih, and two others were arrested in Lagos for being alleged accomplices of Ismaila Mustapha (a.k.a. Mompha). The EFCC suspects that Mompha, Koudeih and the others are kingpins of a network of cyber criminals who laundered N33 billion through three firms. Koudeih was arrested during the weekend after a three-hour stand-off at his N1.8 billion luxury apartment in the 33-storey Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, Victoria Island, Lagos. His arrest follows evidence uncovered after Mompha’s arrest last Tuesday. The alleged three-hour action drama began when the anti-graft agency operatives arrived at his luxury suite and Koudeih and his wife refused to open the door. The couple also failed to respond to appeals from the building’s chief security officer. However, the agile operatives of EFCC had been monitoring the premises and completely surrounded it. They suspected that the Lebanese was inside and that his cars were parked in the garage downstairs. Tensions rose quickly as the luxury apartment was fortified with a triple reinforced fire-proof door and closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras. Reports say the EFCC investigators had to battle for three hours to break down the door using breaching tools. When they gained entry, they met Koudeih’s wife who claimed he had escaped through the window. Koudeih’s apartment is on one of the topmost floors of Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, and that’s like the tallest apartment building in Nigeria. “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 said. Yet they did not find Koudeih in any of the rooms until they observed that a part of the ceiling in his bedroom had been artificially sealed. They pushed it open and found Koudeih hiding in the ceiling. A further search of his bedroom revealed a fire-proof safe containing different charms and talismans in calabashes. According to the EFCC, the Lebanese admitted they were his “prayer objects”. Two luxury cars were also recovered from him. Mr. Rabo said the commission is investigating Koudeih and his wife’s immigration status and the result is being expected. The couple confirmed that they had Lebanese ancestry but the commission is yet to confirm if they have any other nationality. The nationality of the two other suspects is not yet known. Mr Rabo further stated “ local and international law enforcement agencies have indicated interest to collaborate in this investigation. 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). However, Koudeih’s arrest was based on “purely EFCC intelligence”. He added that “Actionable intelligence received from local and international law enforcement agencies reveal that Koudeih and Mompha alongside their collaborators are high valued targets in Organised Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN). Investigations also revealed that Mompha used a firm known as Ismalob Global Investments Limited to perpetrate about N14 billion money laundering while Koudeih operates two firms namely: THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited to launder about N19 billion.” The EFCC discovered 51 Nigerian bank accounts opened by Mompha for money laundering, the anti graft agency said. It would later reveal that the five wristwatches recovered from Mompha during his arrest last Tuesday are worth over N60 million, rather than the N20 million earlier suggested. Mompha has since deleted his instagram page and is yet to comment. CTA – What do you make of Koudeih’s arrest?

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