By Dipo Olowookere
A Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has maintained that former Keystone Bank (former Bank PHB) Managing Director, Mr Francis Atuche, must face trial for alleged N25.7 billion theft.
At the sitting yesterday, the court upheld the appeal filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a Lagos High Court verdict which dismissed the charge.
The appellate court, in its judgement delivered by Justice Gana Mshelia, set aside the lower court’s judgment, directing the Chief Judge of Lagos State to reassign the case to another judge for retrial.
Justice Msheila in her lead judgement held that the trial judge erred in law by holding that it was bound on the principle of stare decisis by the decision in Okey Nwosu Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria and Akingbola Vs Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The appellate court further held that the lower court erred when it struck out counts 1 to 24 and 26 in the amended information against the third defendant.
It would be recalled that last June 22, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo ruled that he lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit and that the prosecution’s case lacked merit.
He discharged Mr Atuche of the theft charge along with his wife, Mrs Elizabeth, and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu.
“I find no merit in the prosecution’s application, it is hereby dismissed. The defendants application dated November 27, 2013 succeeds and I hereby make the following orders:
“The criminal charge in this suit is hereby struck out and the accused persons namely; Francis Atuche, Elizabeth Atuche and Ugo Anyawu are discharged. The complainant’s notice of plenary objection dated December 3, 2013 is hereby dismissed”, Justice Lawal-Akapo had declared.
But the EFCC in its appeal filed by its counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), is now seeking an order of the Court of Appeal setting aside the order of Justice Lawal-Akapo striking out the counts contained in the amended information dated June 1, 2011.
Other reliefs sought by the EFCC include an order allowing its appeal and an order directing a continuation of trial and defence before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the High Court of Lagos State sitting in Ikeja.
The EFCC, which based its appeal on five grounds, told the court that the learned trial judge erred in law by proceeding to strike out the entirety of the amended information when by the unambiguous and plain provisions of Section 252(3) of the Constitution, no exclusive criminal jurisdiction is conferred on the Federal High Court (at least to the exclusion of the Lagos High Court) on the matters provided for under Section 251(1).
The commission contended that it was wrong for the court to strike out counts 1 to 24 and 26 in the amended information against the third defendant when the order of the Court of Appeal against which he claimed the lower court assumed jurisdiction over the charge was in respect of the appeals initiated by the first and second appellants only stressing that the third defendant was not a party to it.
Akinwumi Adesina Turns Down Requests to Become Next Nigerian President
By Adedapo Adesanya
The President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, has ruled himself out of the 2023 presidential race in Nigeria.
Mr Adesina made his position known in a statement on Tuesday after months of calls for him to join the contest after a group bought the presidential nomination form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him at the cost of N100 million.
In the statement, the banker emphasised that his current desire is to continue to hold the office of the president of the AfDB which he won reelection for last year.
However, he expressed appreciation for those who found him worthy of leading his country at this critical time it is undergoing different challenges ranging from economy, security and others.
“While I am deeply honoured, humbled and grateful for all the incredible goodwill, kindness, and confidence, my current responsibilities at this time do not allow me to accept to considered,” the statement read in part.
“I remain fully engaged and committed to the mission that Nigeria, Africa and all the non-African shareholders of the African Development Bank have given me for Africa’s development.
“I remain fully focused on the mission of supporting the accelerated development and economic integration of Africa,” Mr Adesina added.
Less than two weeks ago, a coalition of 28 groups purchased the N100 million APC presidential forms for the former Agriculture Minister.
The coalition consists of groups such as the Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora, One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups, farmers, and other civil society groups.
Sanwo-Olu Promises Justice for Sound Engineer David Imoh
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has promised to ensure that the late Sound Engineer killed by a mob in the Lekki area of the state last week gets justice.
The Governor gave this assurance through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement issued on Monday night.
Last week, after boarding a commercial motorcycle, an argument ensued between Mr David Imoh and the okada rider over N100 and attracted other riders, who then lynched him.
There have been calls for justice for the deceased and in the statement today, the state governor said this would be done.
He condemned the mob attack and said the police are interrogating four suspects at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti in connection with the incident, while two survivors of the act are in hospital.
According to Mr Sanwo-Olu, the government will address the root cause of this and similar incidents, which have caused public anxiety, appealing to residents to remain calm as police continue to investigate the matter.
“Lagos has no room for savagery and anybody found to have been involved in this barbarism will surely face the law.
“We condemn and will not condone any kind of jungle justice, no matter who the perpetrators are,” the statement stressed.
N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, is cooling off in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is having talks with the agency, explaining what he knows about an alleged diversion of N80 billion belonging to the federal government.
He was picked up by operatives of the EFCC on Monday, May 16, 2022, after allegedly failing to honour invitations by the commission to respond to issues connected to the issue.
In a statement issued on Monday night, the anti-money laundering organisation claimed that Mr Idris, through verified intelligence, “raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.”
“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja,” another part of the statement disclosed.
The AGF has been in the news lately over an audit report, which indicted some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government of fraud.
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