Court adjourns trial of Atuche, Ojo to March 22

Francis Atuche

Francis Atuche in company of EFCC officials

Francis Atuche in company of EFCC officials
Francis Atuche in company of EFCC officials

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday fixed March 22 for the commencement of trial of Francis Atuche, a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB.

Atuche is standing trial alongside Charles Ojo, a former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, on amended 45 charges of N125 billion fraud.

When the case was called for mention, Mr Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) announced his appearance for the prosecution.

Also, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Mr Victor Obaro, announced their appearances for Atuche and Ojo respectively.

The prosecution, thereafter, applied for a date for trial.

Justice Saliu Saidu, while adjourning the case, fixed March 22 and 23 for trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the accused were re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Feb. 20, 2014, before Justice Saidu, following a re-assignment of the case.

They were first arraigned in 2009 before Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye.

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Ajakaiye had granted them bail in the sum of N50 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

They were later re-arraigned before Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako on Feb. 3, 2012, and subsequently, before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia on Jan. 16, 2013.

Both judges had adopted the bail terms granted by Ajakaiye.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have granted credit facilities, manipulated shares and committed general banking fraud to the tune of N125 billion.

The offences contravened Sections 7(2) (b) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, 2004, and Sections 15(1) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, 2004.

It also contravenes Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C 38, Laws of the Federation, 2004, as well as Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2004.

Both accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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