Akin Kuponiyi/Judiciary correspondent
The former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, and a former director of the bank, Charles Ojo, were Wednesday re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, for allegedly granting loans amounting to N150 billion without collateral.
They were re-arraigned before Justice Ofili Ajumobobia because the former trial judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, has been transferred out of Lagos.
When the matter was mentioned today, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), told the court that the charge was coming up for the first time before the new judge, therefore, the charge should be read to the accused persons.
Counsel to the accused persons, Abubakar Samsideen and Olumide Adefila opposed the application on the ground that an appeal is pending for the court to stay further proceedings pending the outcome of the proceedings challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
However, Justice Ajumogobia said the accused persons must be re-arraigned before she could take any step because as they are, they are not properly appearing before the court.
Subsequently, the 45-count criminal charge were read to the accused persons. They pleaded not guilty.
Thereafter, their counsel urged the court to allow them to be on the former bail granted by Justice Akinyide Ajakaiye. EFCC counsel, Pinheiro did not object.
The court then ordered them to file fresh bail application within seven days.
They remain on the existing bail pending the next adjourned date when their bail application will be heard.
The case was later adjourned till 16 January, 2013.
The two former directors of Bank PHB were first arraigned in October 2009.