Mr. Francis Atuche
By Akinwale Akintunde
Justice Lateefa Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court, Friday, granted former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth, an extension of time to file their no-case submission applications on the charges preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Atuches and the former Chief Financial Officer of Bank PHB, Mr. Ugo Anyanwu are standing trial over allegations of stealing N25.7 billion belonging to the bank.
The EFCC had closed its case against the accused persons on March 4, this year, after calling 12 witnesses, who gave oral evidence and issuing subpoenas to six other persons to present some documents, which were admitted as exhibits by the court.
Atuche and the co-defendants had insisted that the EFCC had failed to establish the charge preferred against them, based on the testimonies of witnesses and exhibits before the court.
Following the development, Justice Okunnu directed the defendants to file their no-case submission within 14 days.
At yesterday’s proceedings, counsel to the Atuches, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), asked the court for an extension of time to file all the necessary processes.
Idigbe said the delay was necessitated by the crash of his computer, which resulted in the loss of valuable information relating to the matter.
The EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), who had earlier opposed the application, withdrew his objection and the judge granted the request.
The judge also granted the EFCC an extension of time to regularise its objection to the no-case submission filed by Anyanwu.
She adjourned the matter till June 26 for hearing of the pending applications.