EFCC to re-arraign Akingbola, Atuche, Nwosu for stealing N90bn
Following the decision of the Supreme Court in a case involving a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Okey Nwosu, the EFCC, is set to re-arraign him, former Managing Director of defunct Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola and Francis Atuche, of the defunct Bank PHB, for alleged fraud.
Akingbola was accused of stealing N47.1 billion while Atuche and Nwosu were accused of stealing N25.7 billion and N18 billion respectively, totaling about N90 billion.
It would be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria, under the leadership of Mallam Lamido Sanusi, had, in 2009, petitioned the EFCC, asking the anti-graft agency to investigate Nwosu, Akingbola, Atuche and a former MD of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, who has since been convicted.
After its findings, the EFCC charged them before the Federal High Court, Lagos, on money laundering charges and also initiated another charge of stealing against them before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, having obtained a fiat from the Lagos State Attorney General.
Not satisfied with the second charge, Nwosu challenged the charge at the Lagos High Court on the grounds that it was an abuse of court process and would expose him to double jeopardy, while also questioning the jurisdiction of the state High Court.
The Lagos High Court dismissed his objection and Nwosu approached the Court of Appeal where he won.
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Akingbola and Atuche aligned with the Appeal Court judgment, arguing that the case against them should be struck out.
The Court of Appeal therefore struck out the charges against them on the same grounds.
However, the EFCC approached the Supreme Court, which decided in its favour.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment, upheld the appeal by the EFCC and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which earlier quashed the charge on the grounds that it amounted to an abuse of court process.
With the victory at the apex court, the EFCC, which hailed the judgment, describing it as a victory in its fight against corruption, said it was a major boost in the prosecution of the ex-bank chiefs.
It said: “The EFCC has won a major victory in the war against economic and financial crimes as the Supreme Court categorically ruled that Okey Nwosu, former Managing Director of FinBank Plc, who is being prosecuted by the EFCC over N18bn shares scam, should face his trial.
“Nwosu’s previous victories at the lower court slowed down the prosecution of other bank chiefs, who aligned with his victory, to ask that their cases be struck out. But with this ruling of the apex court, the trial of the likes of Francis Atuche, formerly of BankPHB, and Erastus Akingbola, formerly of Intercontinental Bank would receive a major boost.”
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