April 21, 2010

Court bars Atuche from honouring EFCC’s invitations

By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS — A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos,Tuesday, ordered former Managing Director of Platinum Habib Bank (Bank PHB), Mr. Francis Atuche, not to honour further invitations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in respect of his seized assets.
Trial judge in the matter is Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye.
The court said since the matter was before the court and since it (court) had also assumed jurisdiction in the matter, parties in the case should suspend all action until the determination of the case.

The court had on 1 March  ordered temporary forfeiture of assets against  Atuche and directed the EFCC to temporarily seize the former bank MD’s  known assets and freeze all his identified accounts.

But following an application filed by his counsel, contending that the EFCC misrepresented some facts in bringing the ex-parte application, upon which the court made the order, Atuche consequently prayed the court to vacate the order.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Atuche’s counsel told the court that while the case was still pending, the EFCC had invited his client for investigation in respect of the same property and prayed the court’s protection.

But EFCC counsel, notified the court that he was not aware of the letter and that he would look into it but if Atuche was not satisfied with the assurance, he should bring a formal application, so that the commission could adequately response to it.

The court in a short ruling held that once a matter was before the court, parties must stay all actions until the determination of the case.

The court, therefore, ordered that letter of invitation from the EFCC to Colonnadex Hotel be disregarded, while further hearing was adjourned till April 30,  for hearing of all pending applications.