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N25.7bn Fraud: Appeal Court Affirms Conviction of Ex-Bank PHB MD, Atuche, One Other




By Gom Mirian, Abuja

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, yesterday, June 23, 2022,  upheld the conviction of a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche, as well as the bank’s former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu.

Atuche and his co-convict, Anyanwu, had approached the appellate court to set aside their conviction by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos on June 16, 2021 over a N25.

7 billion fraud. 

The panel, comprising Justices Sadiq Umar, Adebukola Banjoko and Kayode Bada, while resolving all the issues in the appeal in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, except the sentencing, also clarified that Atuche’s jail term was 12 years concurrently, rather than 120 years, handed down by the lower court, if calculated consecutively.

Also,   the panel reduced Anyanwu’s jail term from 10 years to eight years and affirmed the discharge and acquittal of Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth.

 In an abridged ruling read by Justice Umar, the three-man panel upheld the EFCC’s arguments and unanimously dismissed the appeal.

It would be recalled that, in 2021, Justice Okunnu, while sentencing Atuche and Anyanwu, had upheld the arguments of the prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.   About three years after their arraignment by the EFCC in 2011, they had approached the Court of Appeal, to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction. But in a judgment delivered in September 2016, the court ordered Justice Okunnu to hands-off the trial, but did not quash the numbers of counts against the defendants. Consequently, the EFCC approached the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment and order a trial in the matter.

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In its judgment, the apex court directed that the case be returned to Justice Okunnu for continuation of trial. While the trial lasted,   Pinheiro opposed Atuche’s contention that the funds in dispute were loaned and not stolen. Delivering judgment, Justice Okunnu had held that “The first and third defendants did not debunk the evidence of the prosecution that the loans were used to purchase shares. They rather contended that the monies granted as loan could be used for whatever purposes.”

The trial court, therefore, sentenced Atuche and Anyanwu, but acquitted Atuche’s wife.


Sales Rep Faces N7m Theft Charge




A 43-year-old sales representative, Fatai Abiodun, who allegedly stole N7 million was on Wednesday brought before an Ejigbo Magistrates’ Court, Lagos.

Abiodun, whose residential address was not provided, is standing trial on a four-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and assault.

The prosecutor, ASP Benedict Aigbokhan, told the court that the defendant committed the offences on Aug.

8, at 5:.

45 p.m. at Samuel Street, Akowonjo, Lagos.

Aigbokhan said the defendant stole the sum of N7 million belonging to the complainant, one Mr Chika Obioha.

He stated that when the complainant demanded for his money, the defendant unlawfully assaulted and caused him bodily harm.

The prosecutor said that the defendant unlawfully took a photograph of the complainant with his mobile phone.

According to him, the offences contravene Sections 173, 287, 388 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The Magistrate, Miss K. A. Ariyo, granted him bail in the sum of N500, 000 with two sureties in like sum.

Ariyo ordered that the sureties must be gainfully employed and one of them must be a blood relation of the defendant.

She adjourned the case until Sept. 27 for mention. (NAN)

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Aspirant asks Court to Invalidate Kola Abiola’s Emergence as PRP Presidential Candidate




A female presidential aspirant, Patience Ndidi Key, has urged a Federal High Court, Abuja to nullify the June 5, primaries that produced Kola Abiola as the People’s Redemption Party (PRP)’s presidential candidate.
Key, in the originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1001/2022, also prayed for an order setting aside the declaration of Abiola as the winner of the primaries conducted across the country.

Newsmen report that Mr Kola is the son of late MKO Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 1993 presidential election.
The plaintiff had sued the party, Mr Latifu Kolawole Abiola and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
In the application dated and filed on June 28 by her lawyer, the frontline politician alleged that the June 5 presidential primary election was conducted in gross violations of the party’s guidelines, “the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC’s guidelines in the nomination or sponsorship of the 2nd defendant (Abiola) as candidate of the 1st defendant (PRP) in the forthcoming 2023 Presidential Election.

She, therefore, asked the court for an order restraining Abiola from parading himself as the winner of the primaries.
The plaintiff, who prayed the court for an order declaring her as the valid winner of the presidential primary election of the party conducted on June 5, also sought an order directing the party to substitute Abiola’s name with hers and submit same to INEC as PRP’s presidential candidate.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, counsel for the plaintiff, Ibrahim Audu, informed that he had been unable to serve the 2nd defendant (Abiola) with the amended originating summons.
Newsmen report that though lawyer to the PRP, Jully Anyata, was in court, no counsel appeared for Abiola and INEC.
Audu then told the court that he had a motion ex-parte dated Aug. 4 and filed Aug. 5, seeking for a substituted service of the amended originating summons on Abiola and an application seeking for leave to amend their originating summons.
But Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the amended application ought to be properly filed and served on the defendants in the suit.
The judge consequently adjourned the matter till Sept. 7 for further mention.(NAN)

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Court Adjourns Case against Plateau Govt, Jaiz Bank




A Plateau state High Court on Monday adjourned the continuation of hearing in a suit filed by member representing Jos East /Jos Federal Constituency, Dachung Bagos, challenging Gov. Simon Lalong over the planned signing of an agreement with Jaiz Bank to rebuild the Jos Main Market.
Presiding Judge, Justice S. P Gang in his ruling adjourned the matter to Aug. 30 for continuation of hearing.

Earlier, counsel to claimant/applicant, Niri Darong, told the court that the defendants in his reaction to their originating summons had chosen to file pleminary objections and prayed the court to allow notice of originating summons to allow the two applications to be taken together.

Darong told the court that they gave the objectors time to file their responses which he said was within 21 days of notice.
He stated that the Nigerian constitution had given every citizen the right to challenge any act of government, adding that the lawmaker has rights to defend the right of his people and that of his constituents.

Attorney General of the state Chrysantus Ahmadu did not object to the prayer of the claimant’s counsel and utged that the originating summons and existing summons be taken together.
Newsmen recall that Bagos had secured a court injunction at the Plateau State High Court, restraining the state government from signing an agreement with Jaiz Bank on the reconstruction of the Jos Main Market.
The injunction, which was granted on Aug. 2, by Justice S. P Gang, restrains Gov. Simon Lalong, the state government and Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Plateau State from signing an agreement with Jaiz Bank pending hearing of the substantive suit.
The Jos Main market was gutted by fire in 2001 with more than 3,700 shops destroyed, affecting the source of livelihood of traders in the market over 20 years ago.(NAN)

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