By Judith Eshemitan / Reporter, Lagos
Mr. Francis Atuche, former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Mr. has urged an Ikeja High Court to dismiss an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), asking it to adjourned its ruling in which he (Atuche) is challenging jurisdiction of the court, sine die (indefinitely).
Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of Bank PHB, Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, are being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion from the bank.
The former bank chief had filed an application asking the court to quash the charge, arguing that like Nwosu’s case, the state high court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo had on March 2 fixed Monday, April 13, 2015 for ruling on Atuche’s application but could not deliver the ruling after Adesina informed the court of the EFCC’s pending application.
In the application dated April 2, 2015 filed by its counsel, Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), the EFCC urged the court to adjourn the ruling, pending the outcome of its appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment of November 21, 2013 at the Supreme Court.
The appellate court had in the November 21, 2013 judgment struck out the theft charges preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu and others for lack of jurisdiction
Counsel to Atuche, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), had maintained that the cases were similar because they emanated from capital market transactions.
Oyetibo said the charges against Atuche bordered on issues which derived from capital market transactions, over which he said only a Federal High Court could adjudicate.
The counsel pointed the attention of the court to the decision of the Court of Appeal, which, on November 21, 2014, struck out the theft charges levelled against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu and others.
But Adesina said the EFCC had filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court, adding that the matter has being granted expeditious hearing due to its importance.
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