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N25.7 Billion Bank Fraud: Court Convicts Francis Atuche

N25.7 Billion Bank Fraud, Court Convicts former Managing Director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank, Francis Atuche and his former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu

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A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentence the former Managing Director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank, Francis Atuche to six years imprisonment over N25.7 billion fraud charges.

Delivering judgement after 13hours long analysis of the each count charge, Justice Lateefa Okunnu found Atuche and his former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu guilty as charge.

She sentence Anyanwu to four years imprisonment on each count charge consecutively.

They were convicted for 21 out 27 counts charges.

The judge however discharged and acquitted Atuche’s wife noting that the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy allegations levelled against her in the charges.

The judge noted that Atuche abused his position of trust by stealing from the bank.

“By stealing from the bank, they stole from innocent customers.

“I hereby make an Order of restitution against the first and third defendants to refund the sums stated in counts one to 11, 14 and 24.

Also Read: N450m Money Laundering: Bulama Others To Face Fresh Trial

“The sums are to paid to the relevant agencies that recovered funds on behalf of the bank.

Justine Okunnu said Atuche and Anyanwu were able to defraud Bank PHB of billions of Naira using well recognised stock brokers to transfer money belonging to the bank under the guise of loans and shares.

“It was a well planned, well executed scheme but the bubble burst when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened” she noted.

The judge also noted that a large volume of documentary evidence was produced by parties in the case.

She said documents such as bank records, emails and the statements of key actors in the case played a key role in securing the conviction of the defendants.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2011 arraigned Atuche, his wife and the then financial officer of the moribund bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank), Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, over the alleged fraud.

The commission in the charge sheet which was read to the former bank executives alleged that they committed the offence between November 2007 and September 2008.

Read Also: Baba Ijesha Saga: Lagos Reiterate Zero Tolerance To Child Molestation

EFCC alleged that the accused persons sold 241, 579, 284 units of Afribank shares, a joint property of Caverton Helicopters Ltd, and Bank PHB Plc and converted the proceeds for their personal use.

The three accused persons were alleged to have fraudulently converted some of the stolen money into loans to Congipar Nig. Ltd and using same for their personal use.

The EFCC claims the alleged offences contravene Sections 516 and 383 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003. .

In the charge against Atuche’s wife Elizabeth, she was alleged to have stolen N8.5 billion belonging to the bank between November, 2007 and April, 2008.

The EFCC alleged that Mrs Atuche fraudulently converted the proceeds of several loans for the acquisition of 337,500,000 and 168,750,000 units of Bank PHB shares on behalf of Ghazali Yakubu Investment Limited and AFCO Associates Limited.

The alleged offences contravene Sections 519 and 383 of the Criminal Code Law, CAP C17, Laws of Lagos State 2003.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

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After about three years into the trial, Atuche and co-defendants approached Court of Appeal to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.

In a judgement delivered in September 2016, the Appellate Court stopped the lower court from going ahead with the trial.

The appellate court also failed to quash the charges against Atuche, his wife and others but ordered Justice Okunnu to hands off the trial.

The appellate court further directed the Chief Judge of Lagos State to re-assign the case to another judge.

Following the decision of the court of appeal, the EFCC approached the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the lower court and order trial in the matter.

In an unanimous decision, the apex court overturned the decision of the appellate court.

The panel agreed that the lower court’s decisions on the matter was “perverse” and, therefore ought to be set aside.

Justice Ejembi Eko, who prepared and read the lead judgment of the apex court, said the order which the Court of Appeal made on September 23, 2016, for the remittance of case to the Lagos State Chief Judge for the purpose of re-assigning the case to another judge, was not aimed at serving the interest of justice.

 

 

 

 

Top Court News is a product of a dedicated Journalist, owner of I-Wahab Media The Publisher started his Journalism career with Murhi International TV, MiTV in 2003 before working with Radio Nigeria, Lagos Operation, as a Judicial Correspondent. He is presently the Vice Chairman of the National Association of Judicial Correspondent, NAJUC, Ikeja Branch and occupied same office with Nigeria Union of Journalist, NUJ, Radio Nigeria Chapel. topcourtnewsng.com is out to serve you with informative and educative News in the Judiciary sector. To put an end to the under reported activities of the sector among the three arms of government

CRIME

Lekki Gardens Defies Court Order, Resumes Construction at Osborne

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Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd and Foreshore Waters Ltd have defied a court order which restrains them from constructing, developing, building or any similar activity in Osborne Foreshore Estate II, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Our Correspondent who visited the Estate this morning reports that Lekki Gardens was seen carrying out construction process thereby obstructing free flow of vehicular movement into the Estate.

An effort made to see a management staff of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited prove abortive as the supervisor on site refused to talk to the media and declined in giving out contact of their head for reaction over the development.

Meanwhile, the Residents Association gave out a letter to our Correspondent which the engineer on site rely on.

In the said letter on the letterhead of Lekki Gardens one project manager, Engineer Kayode Dawodu had instructed all contractors to immediately resume work.

Read Also: https://topcourtnewsng.com/court-stop-lekki-gardens-construction-in-osborne-foreshore-estate/

The letter reads:

“Dear Sirs,
IMMEDIATE RESUMPTION OF WORKS AT OSBORNE FORESHORE ESTATE 2

Above Subject Matter refers.
Kindly note that all contractors are to immediately resume to work by Friday, 23rd July, 2021

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused us all. However, we hope that we can fully mobilize to site to proceed at the same pace of work (or even better) than we had before the break.

Thank you all for your support and cooperation

Best Regards!

Engr. Kayode Dawodu
“Project Manager”

Justice Nicholas Oweibo of a Federal High Court in Lagos had restricted the two defendants/applicants from predicating on any approvals granted by the 4th Defendant, (Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

Justice Oweibo made the order following an application by the Registered Trustees of Osborne and Foreshore Residents Association through their counsel Mr Kemi Pinheiro SAN.

The order is the latest episode in the months long dispute between the residents and the association over, among others, alleged violation of the estate’s building plans.

Mr Pinheiro had argued in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/755/2021 that the defendants actions were against the policy of the estate as a residential territory.

The residents prayed the court to halt construction process on the properties situate at Block II Plot 2, Plot 7, Block 7, Plot 5,Block 6, Plot 17, Block 9, Plot 23, Block 9, Plot 17, Block 10, Plots 1A, 1B, 1C, Block 6, Plot 19, Block 6, Plot 12, Block 6, Plot 9A, Block 6, Plot 14, and Block 11, Plot 2.

Others are Signature One on Royal Palm Drive, Signature Two, Le Chateau, Insignia and Foreshore Towers on Acacia Road within the Estate or any other property currently being developed by the Respondents all within Osborne Foreshore Estate II.

He found merit in the application upon reading the affidavit in support of the motion exparte for interim injunction and exhibits attached, sworn to by the Admin Manager of the Osborne Foreshore Phase II, Mrs Ifeoma Maduakor

The defendants in the suit are National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Lekki Garden Estate Ltd, Foreshore Waters Ltd and Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority.

The defendant failed to appear before the court to defend their position on the last hearing and the judge adjourned till July 26 to appear before it and argues why the interim should not be made permanent.

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CRIME

Dismissed Policemen Sentence To Death Over Aiding Kidnapping

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Dismissed Policemen and others have been sentence to death by the Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Ikot Ekpene for kidnapping cattle dealer.

The condemned policemen are Corporals Friday Udo, and Saturday Okorie who have since been dismissed from the Nigeria Police.

Others condemned to death were Walter Udo, Ibiono Ibom and Udo Etim whose house was used to keep the victim hostage, while demanding N100m ransom.

They were sentenced to death for kidnapping an Uyo-based cattle dealer, one Alhaji Muhammed Umar Barkindo.

Also Read: https://topcourtnewsng.com/kidnappers-of-oba-iba-kingdom-gets-death-judgement/

The court presided over by Justice Eno Isangedighi held that the accused were guilty of the offence.

She said, “The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubts and found the accused guilty of conspiracy and kidnapping of Alhaji Muhammad Umar Barkindo on 25th November, 2011, an offence punishable by death in Section 1 subsection 2 of Akwa Ibom State Internal Security and Enforcement Law 2009”.

Justice Isangedighi prayed to God to have mercy upon the souls of the condemned kidnappers.

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CRIME

EndSARs Panel Admit Consent Judgment Over Land Encroachment

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The Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS and Other related Abuses has settled an eight years old matter between the Prince Adewanle Adewuyi and the Nigerian Police over an 26 acres of land.

Prince Adewuyi, a 76 years old man had told the panel through his lawyer Debo Adeleke how Police encroaches on his farmlands and demolished the structure without any court order to justify their actions.

He noted that all efforts to get justice and retrieve his land has been frustrated by the IGP and his officers.

However, the Chairman of the panel, the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi ordered the parties having agreed to the terms in the report of settlement to be bound by it.

The police as agreed in their terms of settlement that the the office of Surveyor-General of Lagos State to measure what is left of the Petitioner’s 26 Acres, draw and prepare a new Survey plan in the name of the Petitioner to reflect the present status of the land.

Since the Petitioner has also accepted to forgo the 6 (six) blocks of flat built by the police inside the Petitioner’s portion of land in the interest of peace.

The respondent to hand over the remaining part of the Petitioner’s land back to the petitioner.

Read Also: https://topcourtnewsng.com/n25-7-billion-bank-fraud-court-convicts-francis-atuche/

That further to the said understanding between the parties and in order to consummate the total resolution the matter, the Petitioner also agreed to concede to the Respondent tf 6 (six) blocks of flats which the Respondent inadvertently built on Petitioner’s land.

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