Court fixes October dates for trial of former Bank PHB boss

The accused is being arraigned on a nine-count charge of conspiracy and forgery.

A Lagos High Court presided over by Adeniyi Onigbanjo, Tuesday, fixed October 10, 14, and 15, for the trial of Francis Atuche, former Managing Director of Bank PHB.

Mr. Atuche, alongside Joachim Nnosiri and Uguru Onyike, is charged on nine-counts of conspiracy, forgery and using falsified documents.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, accused the trio of forging board resolutions belonging to three companies – Futureview Securities Ltd, Extra Oil Ltd, and Tradjeck Ltd.

After they were arraigned, the defendants pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The allegedly falsified documents, detailing the companies’ board resolutions, had already been tendered before Justice Lateefat Okunnu, where Mr. Atuche is facing a N25 billion bank fraud.

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Mr. Atuche is appearing before Mrs. Okunnu, alongside his wife, Elizabeth Atuche, accused of granting hoax loans amounting to N25 billion while at Bank PHB.

Tayo Oyetibo, Mr. Atuche’s counsel, unhappy with the EFCC’s ‘antics,’ requested for an accelerated hearing of the matter.

“The first defendant is already on bail. This is a document before Justice Okunnu, the court are trying to certify if it was duly signed or not before they (EFCC) rushed here to file this,” said Mr. Oyetibo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

All the defendants attended Tuesday’s proceedings from the EFCC custody, although they had been enjoying administrative bail.

Mr. Onigbanjo, the trial judge, adjourned till Wednesday for the hearing of Mr. Atuche’s bail arguments, and Thursday for the other defendants.

“The first defendant is free to go home after today’s proceeding and return to court tomorrow,” said Mr. Onigbanjo.

The judge also asked the other defendants to go home “on the strength of their administrative bail,” and return to the court on Thursday.

Mr. Atuche is also appearing before the same judge for allegedly conspiring with Lekan Kasali and Funmi Ademosun, two former directors of Bank PHB to defraud the bank of N11 billion.

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