N27.5bn: Power failure stalls Atuche’s trial

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BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH

LAGOS—Further hearing of the on-going trial of former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche, over alleged N25.7 billion theft preferred against him and two others was yesterday stalled due to epileptic supply of electricity.

Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, were dragged before the court by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Moment the case was called before Justice Lateefat Okunnu who presided over the  case, she announced the adjournment, following the power outage in the court.

The situation has been a recurring one since last week when several of the court rooms cannot sit because of irregular power supply.
Several of the litigants were left to their fate as the court could not hold the proceeding and were left in darkness.

It would be recalled that, at the last proceeding, the Court had dismissed the application filed by Atuche, asking the court to stay further proceedings of his trial.
Atuche, through his counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN,  had prayed the court to stay proceedings on the trial.
The senior lawyer said the stay was necessary pending the determination of the various appeals filed by both the EFCC and Atuche before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.

But in his response, counsel to EFCC Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, argued that the application should be dismissed for being an abuse of court processes.
Pinheiro said: “The law as it stands mandates the court to uphold Section 40 of the EFCC Act.

“It is a deliberate ploy to delay and truncate this proceeding.”
However, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, in a short ruling, held that Section 273 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law prohibited her from entertaining the application.

 

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