Judges trans­fer stalls N125bn Atuche fraud trial

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Ya­haya Ibrahim, Lagos

The ex­pected trans­fer of judges has stalled the on­go­ing trial of the former man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Bank PHB (now Key­stone Bank Plc), Mr. Fran­cis Atuche and the former man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the de­funct Spring Bank, Mr. Charles Ojo on a N125 bil­lion fraud yes­ter­day.

The two former bank MDs were charged be­fore Jus­tice Saliu Saidu of the Fed­eral High Court Lagos by the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) on an amended 45-count charge bor­der­ing on fraud, con­spir­acy, reck­less grant­ing and ap­proval of loans and money laun­der­ing, all of which al­legedly took place be­tween Septem­ber 1, 2006 and 2009.

But they pleaded not guilty to the charges and are cur­rently on bail.

At the re­sumed hear­ing of the case yes­ter­day, EFCC lawyer, Mr Kemi Pin­heiro, SAN in­formed the court of the Chief Judge of the Fed­eral High Court, Jus­tice Ibrahim Auta’s direc­tive of likely trans­fer of some judges and his sub­se­quent ad­vice that no judge should com­mence any trial that they may not be able to con­clude be­fore the trans­fer.

Upon the rev­e­la­tion made by Pin­heiro, pre­sid­ing Jus­tice Saidu ad­journed the mat­ter till De­cem­ber 10 for men­tion.

At the last pro­ceed­ing of the case, Mr. Osa­hon Ide­mu­dia, coun­sel to the sec­ond ac­cused, Charles Ojo had asked the court for an ad­journ­ment to him to have pre-trial con­fer­ence with his client.

The anti-graft agency had re-ar­raigned both Atuche and Ojo be­fore the court on charges of ac­quir­ing Key­stone Bank’s shares us­ing de­pos­i­tors’ funds.

Min­is­te­rial nom­i­nees Okechukwu Enelan­mah and Mal­lam Adamu Adamu (right) re­spond to ques­tions dur­ing their screen­ing by the Sen­ate at the Na­tional As­sem­bly in Abuja yes­ter­day.

Photo Macjohn Akande

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