N125bn fraud: Ex-Spring Bank boss, Ojo, seeks to quash charges

Francis Atuche of ex-Bank PHB is also being prosecuted for the crime.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos will on July 8 rule on an application filed by former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank, Charles Ojo, challenging his trial before the court.

Mr. Ojo is charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alongside former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, on a 45-count charge bordering on fraud, to the tune of N125 billion.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia fixed the date for ruling after counsel to Mr. Ojo, Osahon Idemudia, replied on points of law to processes filed by the prosecutor, Dele Adesina.

Mr. Idemudia had argued that there was nothing in the proof of evidence filed by the prosecution, connecting Mr. Ojo, who is the second accused, with the alleged offence.

“Where a charge does not disclose a prima facie case against the accused, it must be quashed.

“I submit that the second accused cannot be made to stand trial in a charge to which he ordinarily has no answer,” Mr. Idemudia said.

He, therefore, urged the court to consider whether the proof of evidence discloses any reasonable cause of action against Ojo.

In the charge against the accused, they are alleged to have granted fraudulent credit facilities, manipulated shares and committed general banking fraud, to the tune of over N125 billion.

The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 15 of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, 2004, which prescribes five years imprisonment for offenders.

The accused were first arraigned before Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye, sometime in 2009. They pleaded not guilty to the charge and the court had granted them bail.

The accused had, however, challenged the competence of the charge preferred against them and urged the court to quash it, an application which was refused.

Thereafter, the accused had headed to the appellate court, seeking an order to overturn the ruling of the lower court.

The accused were, on November 14, 2012, re-arraigned before Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia following the transfer of Mr. Ajakaiye, which led to the case starting afresh.

After their re-arraignment, the accused brought a similar application before the new judge on February 7, seeking to quash the information and proof of evidence filed against them by the EFCC.

The prosecutor had, however, opposed the application, describing it as an abuse of court process for the accused to file an application before the trial court when they had a pending appeal.

Mr. Atuche had subsequently withdrawn his application, while Mr. Ojo proceeded to file a reply to the arguments of the EFCC.

(NAN)


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