A Lagos High Court will rule about the N25.7 billion theft charge brought against Francis Atuche, a former MD of Bank PHB.The ruling will take place on April 13.
Atuche had brought an application to quash the charges against him by the EFCC. Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo fixed the date on Monday after the defence and prosecuting counsel adopted their written addresses.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth, are standing trial alongside a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu.
They were charged to court by the EFCC for allegedly stealing from the bank while Atuche was the Chief Executive Officer. Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), Atuche’s counsel, had urged the court to quash the charge because it lacked jurisdiction.
He said the application was premised on a judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on November 21, 2014. Oyetibo said the appellate court had in the judgment struck out the theft charges preferred against a former MD of Finbank, Okey Nwosu and others.
“The Court of Appeal in Nwosu’s case held that the Lagos State High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge because it emanated from the capital market transactions.
“The appellate court held that such capital market-based matter was an exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court,’’ he said.
Oyetibo argued that both Nwosu and Atuche’s cases were similar, stressing that the lower court had a judicial duty to follow the decision of the appellate court.
He also referred the court to the December 31, 2014 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in the case of Erasmus Akingbola against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, the appellate court struck out the case against Akingbola, a former MD of Intercontinental Bank on the same grounds.
However, the EFCC’s counsel, Chinenye Ugwuagu, in her notice of preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the application for being frivolous and vexatious.
Ugwuagu argued that the Court of Appeal’s decision in Nwosu’s case was inapplicable in Atuche’s case.