Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday asked a Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja to adjourn sine die (indefinitely) its ruling on an application filed by the managing director of defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, seeking to quash the theft charge preferred against him.
The EFCC in its application filed by its counsel, Mr Dele Adesina (SAN), before Justice Lateef-Lawal Akapo, prayed 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 judgment struck out the theft charges preferred against a former managing director of Finbank Plc, Mr Okey Nwosu and others for lack of jurisdiction
Atuche, alongside his wife, Elizabeth, and a former chief financial officer of Bank PHB, Ugo Anyanwu, are being prosecuted for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion from the bank.
The former bank chief had approached the court for the quashing of the charge, as he argued that like Nwosu’s case, the state high court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
His counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) had maintained that the cases were similar because they emanated from capital market transactions.
“The appellate court held that such capital market-based matter was an exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court,” he added.
Oyetibo also referred the court to the December 31, 2014, judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, in the case of Mr Erasmus Akingbola against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, the appellate court struck out the case against Akingbola, a former managing director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, on the same grounds.
The judge had on March 2 fixed Monday for ruling on Atuche’s application but could not deliver the ruling after Adesina informed the court of the EFCC’s pending application.
Adesina said the EFCC had filed an appeal against the judgment at the Supreme Court, adding that the matter had being granted expeditious hearing due to its importance.
Responding, Oyetibo asked the court to reject the application, arguing that it was aimed at truncating the ruling.
However, after listening to the submissions of both parties, the judge adjourned the matter till April 22 for arguments on the application.