By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Oamen Areguamen
LAGOS — Former Managing Director of Bank PHB Plc, Mr Francis Atuche and his wife were separately arraigned yesterday before an Ikeja High court for conspiracy and stealing of N32.2 billion belonging to Bank BHB Plc while Atuche held sway as the chief executive officer .

Atuche, who was arraigned before Justice S.A. Onigbanjo alongside two others, Mr. Funmi Ademosun and Mr. Lekan Kasali, alleged to be Atuche’s business partners, were accused of stealing funds being part of proceeds from the sale of Afribank Plc, which is a joint property of Caverton Helicopters Ltd and Bank PHB Plc.

Atuche and the duo of Ademosun and Kasali were slammed with three-count charge of conspiracy and stealing contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Mr Francis Atuche and his wife

Atuche’s wife who was also arraigned before another Judge, Justice Latifat Bisola Okunu on a three-count charge of conspiracy and stealing was said to have converted N11.4 billion belonging to BankPHB Plc, “being property of Bank PHB Plc by fraudulently converting the proceeds of several illegal loans for the acquisition of 337,500, 000 units of Bank PHB Plc shares on behalf of  Ghazali Yakubu Investment Ltd. and AFCO Associates Limited.”

These offences, according to the EFCC, who arraigned them in court, were contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws  of Lagos State, 2003.”

Moments after they were arraigned, all of them pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.
Justice Onigbanjo, however, ordered Atuche and his colleagues to be remanded in EFCC custody and adjourned the hearing of the bail till a latter date.

Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth was however unlucky as she was ordered to be remanded in prison custody by the trial judge, Justice Okunu.

The trial judge, Okunnu adjourned further hearing in her case till July 5, 6 and 12, 2011.

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