N27.5b theft: Court frees Atuche, two others


A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has struck out a N25.7 billion charge brought against a former managing director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The EFCC had arraigned Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth, alongside a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu in court for allegedly stealing N25.7billion belonging to the bank, while the first defendant (Atuche) was the Chief Executive Officer.

Delivering judgment in the matter on Monday, the trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, dismissed the charge for lack of jurisdiction.

The judge said the prosecution’s case lacked merit.

“I find no merit in the prosecution’s application, it is hereby dismissed. The defendants’ application dated November   27, 2013 succeeds and I hereby make the following orders:

“The criminal charge in this suit is hereby struck out and the accused persons namely- Francis Atuche, Elizabeth Atuche and Ugo Anyawu are discharged. The complainant’s notice of plenary objection dated December 3, 2013 is hereby dismissed.”

Counsels to the defendants, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Sylvia Ogwemoh (SAN) had in separate applications asked the court to quash the charge, citing the Court of Appeal judgment of November 21, 2013.

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