Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos state High Court sitting in Ikeja on Monday fixed April 13 for ruling on an application filed by a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, seeking to quash the N25.7 billion theft charge preferred against him.
Mr. Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth, alongside a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly stealing the money from the bank.
Mr. Atuche’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), asked the court to quash the charge for want of jurisdiction.
Mr. Oyetibo said the application was based on a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos on November 21 which struck out the theft charges against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Okey Nwosu and others.
“The Court of Appeal in Nwosu’s case held that the Lagos State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge because it emanated from capital market transactions.
“The appellate court held that such capital market-based matter was an exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court”, he added.
Mr. Oyetibo argued that both Messrs. Nwosu and Atuche’s cases were similar, stressing that the lower court had a judicial duty to follow the decision of the appellate court.
He also referred the court to the Dec.31, 2014 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in the case of Erasmus Akingbola against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, the appellate court struck out the case against Akingbola, a former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, on the same grounds.
However, the EFCC counsel, Chinenye Ugwuagu, in her notice of preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the application for being frivolous and vexatious.
Mr. Ugwuagu argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision in Mr. Nwosu’s case was inapplicable in Atuche’s case.