N4.2bn theft: Court adjourns Atuche’s trial indefinitely

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Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of an Ikeja High Court on Monday adjourned the trial of a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, indefinitely.

Atuche and a former director of the bank, Funmi Ademosun, were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They are facing prosecution for allegedly stealing N4.2 billion belonging to Caverton Helicopters Ltd. in September 2007, through unauthorised sales of its shares.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onigbanjo’s decision to adjourn the matter indefinitely followed Atuche’s application asking the court to quash the charge.

The judge said he was awaiting the outcome of the appeal filed by the EFCC against a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, on Nov.21, 2013.

In the judgment, the appellate court struck out the theft charge the EFCC preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank, Okey Nwosu.

The Court of Appeal held that the Lagos High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the charge because they emanated from capital market transactions.

According to the court, such capital market-based cases, fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

NAN reports that the EFCC had filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court.

Atuche’s counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), had in the application dated Dec.6, 2013, argued that Atuche’s case was similar to that of Nwosu.

Idigbe, therefore, urged the court to quash the charge against the defendants.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), however, argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision in Nwosu’s case was not applicable to that of Atuche. (NAN)

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