By Abdulwahab  Abdulah& Arji Donald
LAGOS — Former Managing Director of Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank), Mr. Francis Atuche, yesterday, asked  an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, to quash the charge of stealing brought against him and a former Director of the bank, Lekan Kasali by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Atuche also indicated his interest to go on with a sister case pending before the same court, while his co-defendant, Mr. Funmi Ademosun, who also was a director in the bank applied that the court should stay proceeding in the matter, pending determination of his appeal.

Trial judge is Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Atuche through his counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN, adopted his further reply on point of law to the prosecutions’ reply to his argument, in which he asked the court to discharge him of the charge against him.

In a preliminary objection, Atuche asked the court to strike out his name from the charge on the ground that transactions on the charges in the two courts were interlinked, adding that EFCC, acting for the Attorney-General of the Federation, can only prosecute a crime under a Federal Law, and not the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State.

Ademosun through his counsel, Robert Clarke, SAN, prayed the court to stay further proceeding in the matter, pending his appeal against a ruling delivered by Justice Onigbanjo on December 2, 2011 at the Court of Appeal.

Atuche was charged separately with the two former directors of Bank PHB and the trio was facing a three-count charge of conspiracy and the theft of N11.4 billion, belonging to the bank.

Moment the matter was mentioned, Atuche’s counsel, Anthony Idigbe, informed the court that they were not interested in the application, when asked to react to the application of the second defendant for stay of preceedings.

“We are ready to go on with the trial. We have no interest in the outcome of the application but we wish them success in their application,” Idigbe said.

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