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Court asks Keystone bank for documents on N10.9b loan

By The Citizen
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An Ikeja High Court, Monday, subpoenaed Keystone Bank Plc, compelling it to produce some documents alleged to be in its custody relating to a N10.9 billion credit facility granted some companies linked to two Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC) witnesses.

The witnesses, whose companies were linked to the loan in the on-going trial of the former managing director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, and two others for financial impropriety, were Diamond Uju (PW1) and Elizabeth Ebi (PW3).

They had earlier testified before the court that the loans were granted to their companies without any formal request.

But the trial judge, Lateefa Okunnu had on January 28, ordered for their recall for further cross-examination by the defence, following an alleged resolution signed by the duo in which they demanded for loans from the bank.

The defence had in their applications argued that recalling the witnesses was crucial in determining their case that the witnesses did not only have a relationship with the bank but actually demanded for the loans, which is the subject of the trial.

Justice Okunnu had in granting the application, directed that the witnesses should only be cross-examined in respect of the documents the defence had claimed was in their possession and fixed Monday for cross-examination of the duo.

But at Monday's resumption of proceedings, EFCC counsel,   Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), informed the court of the presence of the two witnesses in court and urged that the defence to proceed with the cross-examination as scheduled.

Atuche's counsel,  Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) however, pointed out to the court that the documents requested from Keystone Bank to commence the cross-examination were not yet available.

Oyetibo, who noted that the subpoena earlier issued on the bank to produce the documents was not signed and could not be enforced, said the documents were vital to the defence's case since it contradicted the earlier testimonies of the witnesses.

The learned silk told the court that a copy of the documents from the bank will prove that the witnesses actually solicited for the loan facility.

The defence also rejected the prosecution's suggestion that the witnesses could be cross-examined with a copy of the said documents, in possession of the defence, saying the prosecution may raise objection on it later in trial.

This submission was acceded to by the judge, who ordered that a duly signed copy of the subpoena be issued on Keystone Bank Plc and adjourned further trial till March 4.

Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu were being tried for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion belonging to the bank.