Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja division, will today deliver judgement in the N25.7 billion alleged fraud charge against former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc Francis Atuche, and his wife Elizabeth.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2011 arraigned the couple and the then financial officer of the moribund bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank), Ugo Anyanwu.
After about three years into the trial, Atuche and co-defendants approached the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.
In a judgement delivered in September 2016, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, stopped the lower court from going ahead with the trial, but didn’t quash the charges against the accused persons.
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 through it’s counsel, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) approached the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the lower court and order trial in the matter, arguing that the matter had gone far at the lower court and that the decision of the appellate court hampered the expeditious conclusion of the trial.
The Panel of four Supreme Court justices , in a unanimous decision, then overturned the decision of the appellate court in the interest of justice and directed that the case be returned to Justice Okunnu for continuation of trial of the defendants.