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Court insists Atuche has a case of fraud to answer

Channels Television  
Updated March 5, 2012

An Ikeja High Court sitting on Monday dismissed an application filed by the former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Keystone bank), Francis Atuche seeking an order to quash the charges of stealing brought against him and a former Director of the bank, Lekan Kasali by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Presiding Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo said that the application lacks merit and that the charge against the former bank chief is not defective and incompetent.

Mr Atuche had sought an order striking out his name from the charge on the basis that the transactions on another charge against him before the Federal High Court and the one at the Lagos High Court were interlinked.

He added that the EFCC, acting for the Attorney-General of the Federation, can only prosecute a crime under a Federal Law, and not under the Administration of the Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State.

Justice Onigbanjo in his ruling dismissed all the arguments raised by Mr Atuche.

The judge distinguished between the cases at the Federal high court & that at the State High Court. He said the charges at the Federal High Court bordered on his alleged granting of credit facilities illegally while that before his court had to do with stealing and conspiracy to steal.

The court also maintained that the two matters before it and the one before Justice Lateefah Okunnu of the same court had to do with different transactions that Mr Atuche was allegedly involved in, though all the alleged offences were committed when he was the Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Bank PHB.

The judge also overruled Mr Atuche’s argument that the way the case was being handled could prejudice his right to fair hearing.

The judge said that though the case had generated public interest, it would not in anyway affect the decision of the court.

Justice Onigbanjo rejected the former bank chief’s argument that the proof of evidence did not disclose a prima facie evidence against him before adjourning till the 24th of May for commencement of trial.