EFCC re-arraigns Atuche, Ojo over alleged fraud

By The Citizen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, re-arraigned former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche and former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank, Charles Ojo for alleged financial malpractices.

The re-arraignment of the duo was sequel to the transfer of the case from Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, to a new judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, which led to the case beginning de novo.

Both defendants are standing trial on an amended 45-count charge bordering on reckless granting of credit facilities, financial impropriety and general banking fraud.

The defendants were alleged to have granted credit facilities, manipulated shares and committed general banking fraud to the tune of over N125 billion. The offence is said to contravene the provisions of 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 the provisions of sections 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation, 2004 as well as sections 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2004.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, the charge was read over to the defendants, who both pleaded not guilty.

Chief Anthony Idigbe, lawyer to Atuche, urged the court to allow the defendant continue on the earlier bail granted by previous trial judges.

According to Idigbe, the first judge, Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye, had admitted the defendants to bail in the sum of N50 million each with two sureties each in like sum.

He said the bail terms were subsequently adopted by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako on February 3, 2012 and then by Justice Ajumogobia on January 16, 2013.

He, therefore, urged the court to exercise its discretion in allowing the defendants continue on the earlier bail.

However, the prosecutor, Mr Kemi Pinheiro, did not object to the oral submission for bail.

Ruling on the oral bail application, Justice Saidu ordered the defendants to continue with the earlier bail granted by the previous judges.