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EFCC MAKES U-TURN ON ATUCHE, WITHDRAWS APPLICATION ASKING JUDGE TO DISQUALIFY SELF

By NBF News
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday made u-turn on its earlier application asking Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, to disqualify himself from the trial of former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.

EFCC counsel, Mr Kemi Pinhero (SAN) and Dele Adesina (SAN) urged the court to strike out the two motions in which they asked the judge to hands off the trial of the former bank chief.

Atuche was charged separately with two former directors of Bank PHB, Lekan Kasali and Funmi Ademosun before Justice Onigbanjo on three counts each of conspiracy and stealing of the bank's over N11.4 billion.

EFCC alleged that the judge made 'disturbing' comments in his ruling on Atuche's bail application, which might have inadvertently prejudged the substantive charge and pending applications before him.

Moving the application withdrawing the first application in respect of Atuche and Kasali, Adesina said: 'We have resolved to withdraw the application. We have implicit confidence in your Lordship's integrity. So, we are withdrawing it in order not to send the wrong message.'

In the similar vain, Pinhero while withdrawing the one in respect of Atuche and Ademosun said the prosecution do not want the application to be misinterpreted under any guise.'

Counsel to Atuche, Deji Sasegbon (SAN), did not oppose the applications, but asked for N100,000 cost.

Both applications were struck out as prayed without any costs.

The matter was adjourned to September 30.