Judges transfer stalls N125bn Atuche fraud trial
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.