EFCC re-arraigns Atuche, Ojo over alleged fraud


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday re-arraigned two former Managing Directors of Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank Plc) and the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Mr. Francis Atuche and Mr. Charles Ojo, before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

The accused are facing 45- count charges bordering on fraud and sundry financial crimes.The re-arraignment of the two former bank chiefs was sequel to the transfer of the former trial judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, to Port-Harcourt, Rivers State Division of the court.

Consequently, Atuche and Ojo are being re-arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji, who is the fifth judge to handle the matter.After the re-arraignment, the EFCC prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), told the court that he had tendered 65 documents as evidence in the case before the former trial judge and still has additional 110 documents to tender.

He also asked for a quick trial of the matter, which he said, had been in court since 2007. He added that the prosecution was at risk of memory loss of some of the witnesses intended to call in the matter.

However, an attempt by Pinheiro in urging the court to give the two defendants new bail conditions, was unsuccessful.Atuche’s counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), represented by Mr. Kanu Okorie and Mr. Osahon Idemudia, representing the second defendant, passionately pleaded with the court to allow their clients continue with the bail conditions earlier granted by the first trial judge, Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye.

Ajakaiye had admitted them to bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in the same sum, who must be a property owner in Victoria Island, Ikoyi and GRA Ikeja, all high-brow areas of Lagos.

Faji, in his ruling, ordered the two defendants to continue with the earlier bail terms granted them by Ajakaiye, but ordered that the surety must swear to an affidavit of still being their surety in the next 14 days.The matter has been adjourned till February 23 and March 16 -17, 2017.

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