N27bn Scam: ‘You have a case to answer’ – Court tells Atuche, wife

The EFCC accuses Atuche of donating N45million of depositor's fund to two churches

The court also asked the defendants to open their case.

A Lagos High Court presided over by Lateefat Okunnu ruled on Monday that a former Managing Director of Bank PHB Plc, now Keystone Bank Limited, Francis Atuche; his wife, Elizabeth; and his associate, Ugo Anyanwu; who are facing trial over a N27billion scam, have a case to answer and should be ready to open their defence.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, dragged the trio before the court for allegedly stealing N27 billion belonging to the bank.

In her ruling, Mrs. Okunnu said a prima facie case had been established by the Commission against the defendants and that two applications before the court by them cannot succeed.

“A prima facie case has been established by the EFCC against the defendants and as a result, two applications before the court by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants cannot succeed and are thereby over ruled and dismissed. The defendants are hereby called upon to open their case,” she said.

The judge said further that “A question we need to ask is, has enough been said to warrant an explanation from each of the defendants?”

According to her, the 27-count charge against the defendants emphasised that they all fraudulently converted bank’s money for personal use.

“The prosecution has enough evidence before me, about 12 witnesses have been called, and 272 exhibits have been presented before the court by the prosecution,” she said.

In addition, Mrs. Okunnu noted that evidence had been presented by the prosecution that huge sums of money was stolen through former Bank PHB and that all the stolen funds were diverted by the first defendant, Mr. Atuche for his personal use.

The judge adjourned the case to July 17; October 2, 4, 23, 24 and 25, after dismissing the two applications filed by the defendants.


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