A Federal High Court, Lagos today adjourned the trial of the former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche and former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Mr. Charles Ojo, till December 10, 2015 following the likely transfer of Federal High Court judges across the country. Atuche and Ojo are facing trial over an alleged N125 billion fraud before the court.
At the resumed proceedings of the criminal case today which was slated for trial, the EFCC, prosecutor Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, told the court of the directive of the Court’s Chief Judge of likely transfer of judges and advised them not to commence any trial that they may not be able to conclude before the transfer.
Upon this revelation made by Pinheiro, SAN, the presiding Judge Saliu Saidu, adjourned the matter till December 10, for mention.
The two former bank’s managing directors were arraigned before Justice Saliu Saidu by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on an amended 45-count charge bordering on alleged N125 billion frauds, conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundering between September 1, 2006 and 2009. But they had pleaded not guilty to all the 45, and they are currently on bail.
The alleged offences, according to the anti-graft agency, contravene Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The offence of reckless granting of loans contravenes Section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act and punishable under section 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,
At the last proceedings of the case, Mr. Osahon Idemudia, counsel to the second accused, Charles Ojo, had asked the court for an adjournment to enable him 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.,
The duo were also alleged to have applied N3.5billion, being proceeds of unlawful loans granted to Tradjek Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Futureview Financial Services Ltd, in payment for his acquisition of shares of Bank PHB using various companies as fronts with an intention to conceal the ownership of the loans. And that he collaborated with different companies to conceal the genuine origins of the N3.5billion used to acquire the bank’s shares.