By Abdulwahab Abdulah
LAGOS – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, argued its application, asking Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Ikeja High Court to disqualify himself from the trial of former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche and two others, on ground that it has no confidence in the court.
Meanwhile, efforts by Francis Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth to quash the new charges of fraud against them before an Ikeja High Court hit the rock, yesterday, as the trial judge, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, dismissed their application. The judge held that they have a case to answer.
EFCC had alleged that the Atuches and Bank PHB Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, stole N25.7 billion belonging to the bank.
The Atuches had sought an order of court dismissing the charge because, according to them, it amounted to double jeopardy and abuse of court process since they had been arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for similar charges.
In her ruling, the judge held that she saw no merit in Atuche’s claim that EFCC acted in malice and to embarrass them, adding that there was nothing to show any similarity in the case before her and that of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
However, dismissing a petition by EFCC seeking the transfer of the case to another judge, the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Inumidun Akande, through the Deputy Chief Registrar, Mrs. Ariyike Ipaye-Nwachukwu, said: “I am to bring to your notice the decision of the Chief Judge refusing your application for the transfer of the subject matter to another judge.”