Alleged N4.2 billion Bank PHB fraud: Court adjourns Atuche’s trial indefinitely

Francis Atuche

Judge awaiting outcome of appeal filed by EFCC

An Ikeja High Court judge, Adeniyi Onigbanjo, on Monday adjourned the trial of a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, indefinitely.

Mr. Atuche and a former director of the bank, Funmi Ademosun, were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. They are facing prosecution for allegedly stealing N4.2 billion belonging to Caverton Helicopters Ltd. in September 2007, through unauthorised sales of its shares.

Mr. Onigbanjo’s decision to adjourn the matter indefinitely followed Mr. Atuche’s application asking the court to quash the charge.

The judge said he was awaiting the outcome of the appeal filed by the EFCC against a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on November 21, 2013. In the judgment, the appellate court struck out the theft charge the EFCC preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank, Okey Nwosu.

The Court of Appeal held that the Lagos High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the charge because they emanated from capital market transactions. According to the court, such capital market-based cases, fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

The EFCC had filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Atuche’s counsel, Anthony Idigbe, had, in the application dated December 6, 2013, argued that Mr. Atuche’s case was similar to that of Nwosu. He, therefore, urged the court to quash the charge against the defendants.

The EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, however, argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision in Mr. Nwosu’s case was not applicable to that of Mr. Atuche.

(NAN)


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