Atuche, wife must answer N25bn theft charge – EFCC
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday insisted at aLagosHigh Court, Ikeja, that the formerManaging Directorof the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Mr. Francis Atuche, had a case toanswerover the N25.7bn theft charges it instituted against him and others.
The anti-graft agency had charged Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth; and the former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Mr. Ugo Anyanwu, with 27 counts of stealing the bank’s N25.7bn while he (Atuche) was the MD of the bank.
Opposing the accused persons’ “no-case submission” on Wednesday, EFCC’s counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), said with the witnesses the agency had called to testify in the case, sufficient evidence had been adduced to prove their guilt.
He said evidence before the court was “potent, cogent and very forensic linking the defendants to the alleged crime”
But the defence lawyers, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Mr. Sylva Ogwuemor, arguing the no-case submission applications, said the case of the prosecution was not strong enough to warrant the defence of the accused persons.
Idigbe, who represents Atuche and his wife, arguing his application supported by a five-paragraph affidavit and a written address, prayed the court to dismiss the charges against his clients for being “duplicitous”.
“Counts 1 to 10 and counts 11 – 27 are similar charges that are duplicated which means that one cannot commit the two sets of counts the same time,” he said.
He added that the prosecution witnesses were unreliable as their testimonies were tainted by contradictions of facts in relation to issues of the actualmoney allegedly stolen and acceptable banking procedures.