By Innocent Anaba
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday declined to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the Managing Director of Spring Bank Plc, Mrs Olushola Ayodele and other top management staff of the bank, standing trial over alleged fraud and economic crimes to the tune of N5.208 billion.
Trial judge in the matter, Justice Mohammed Idris, in his ruling, pointed out that there would be no basis to issue a bench warrant against the bankers, considering the circumstances of the case, and that he acted on the side of caution.
Attorney General and Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke, SAN, had filed a five_count charge against Ayodele and other top officials of Spring Bank and Bank PHB, accusing them of perpetrating fraud and economic crimes to the tune of N5.208 billion.
Other accused persons are Michael Agamah, Odunlami Lanre, Gladys Okebelama, and Olubukola Moradayo. Also charged is a senior official of Bank PHB, Awele Nwaboshi.
Agamah, now Bank PHB Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, was in the same position in Spring Bank at the time the alleged fraud was committed.
According to the charges, the bankers allegedly obtained N5.208 billion from one Strand Capital Partners Limited under false pretence.
The bankers had refused to attend court when the case came up, while the Federal Government urged the court to order their appearance, a request that was granted by the court.
Ayodele and her co-accused had refusal to appear in court, arguing that the charge against them was a clear case of injustice, and that the court should first determine their preliminary objection, challenging the charges before their appearance in court.
The accused persons, had also filed an appeal against the decision of the lower court, ordering them to appear in court, arguing that the lower court erred in law and committed grave miscarriage of justice by ordering them to appear before it, not minding the existence of their preliminary objection to the charge.
The accused persons, in the appeal, further contended that the ownership of the N5. 208 billion, which they were said to have misappropriated, was the subject matter of a case involving the bank and Strand Capital Partners Limited.