N25.7bn theft: Court adjourns ex-Bank PHB boss, Atuche, wife’s criminal charges

The couple are accused of defrauding their bank.

An Ikeja High Court on Friday granted a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, and his wife, Elizabeth, an extension of time to file no-case submission applications.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Atuches were charged to court for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion belonging to Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank).

The couple was arraigned on May 17, 2011, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside a former chief financial officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu.

The EFCC, led by Kemi Pinhiero, had on March 4 closed its case against Mr. Atuche and his co-accused persons, after calling 12 witnesses to give oral evidence in court. Six other witnesses were issued subpoenas to tender some documents which were admitted as exhibits by the court.

The accused persons had, however, argued that the prosecution failed to establish the charge against them, following which the judge, Lateefat Okunnu, gave them 14 days to file their no-case submission applications.

However, on Friday, counsel to the Atuches, Anthony Idigbe, asked the court for an extension of time to file all the necessary processes.

Mr. Idigbe said the set-back was caused by the crash of his computer which led to the loss of some valuable information regarding the trial of his clients.

Mr. Pinheiro, who had earlier opposed the application, withdrew his objection and the request was granted by the judge.

The judge also granted the EFCC an extension of time to regularise its objection to the no-case submission filed by Mr. Anyanwu.

She adjourned the matter till June 26 for hearing of the pending applications.


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