A Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area has sentenced former managing director of defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche to over 6 years in prison.
In a judgment that lasted over 10 hours, Justice Lateefat Okunnu convicted Atuche alongside a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu.
The two were convicted on at least 6 of a 27-count amended charge of conspiracy to commit a felony and stealing brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
While Atuche who was found guilty on counts 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 23 of the charge would serve a 6-year term for each count, Anyanwu will serve a 4-year jail term for counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 22 and 24 of the amended charge.
They are to serve their jail term consecutively. This sentence is coming after a trial that lasted over 12 years.
In delivering her sentence, Justice Okunnu held that the EFCC successfully proved its case against the convicts beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge rejected claims by the defendants suggesting that they were merely professionally negligent.
She specifically held that Atuche and Anyanwu abused their powers, ignored established rules and regulations thereby putting the bank and depositors’ funds in danger.
The court also came to the conclusion that the convicts corruptly took advantage of their positions to confer on themselves undue financial benefits without regard to the health of the bank.
“The convict stole from the bank and depositors and because of their action, taxpayers money was used to bail out the bank”.
Justice Okunnu held that she had considered the plea of the convicts, but there must be consequences for wrongdoing, adding that sentences are not just for punishment but also for deterrence.
She also ruled that the defendant should make restitution of the amount stolen from the bank. They are to pay back the sum of N25.7billion to the Federal government to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.
According to the Judge, they are to serve their jail terms at the Kirikiri maximum correctional facility in Lagos.
Atuche’s wife cleared
Justice Okunnu however, cleared Atuche’s wife on the charge of conspiracy and stealing.
According to the judge, the EFCC failed to link her to the crime and insisted that suspicion no matter how strong can not take the place of fact.
The judge held that it was not proven that she was aware of the source of the funds she received into her account from her husband and she had no powers to take any decision to influence the transaction.
The EFCC had alleged that between November 2007 and April 2008, the accused persons stole about N25.7bn belonging to the bank.
The anti-graft agency had also claimed that of the total N25.7bn, they stole about N14.7bn by fraudulently describing it as a loan to some companies and subsequently converted the said sum to personal use.
The Commission had listed the companies as Future View Securities, Extra Oil Limited, Resolution Trust and Investment Limited, and Tradjek Nigeria Ltd.
The EFCC also alleged that another N11bn stolen by the defendants was used to purchase about 984,375,000 units of Bank PHB shares for themselves.
According to the commission, the sum used for purchasing the shares was described as a loan to some companies including, Guesstrade Services, Sentron Trading, Montrax Investico, Claremount Management Ltd., Trenton Trade, and others.
In proof of its case against the accused persons, the EFCC called 12 witnesses who gave oral evidence. It also subpoenaed 6 others to present some documents which were admitted as exhibits by the court.
King’s son sends cultists to eliminate his father in Ogun
Six suspected members of Eiye cult group were on Sunday, September 11 arrested by men of Ogun state Police command while attempting to kill a traditional ruler in his palace.
A statement released by SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, spokesperson of the state police command, gave the names of the suspects as Michael Ayodele, Monday Samuel, Ademola Matthew, Hammed Jelili, Ogundele Ojeh and Sunkanmi Fadina. He said the suspects were arrested following a distress call received at Oja odan divisional headquarters from the Oba of Gbokoto land, Oba G.O Olukunle, at about 4:25 pm, that some cultists were about to kill him in his palace .
”Upon the distress call, the DPO Oja- Odan division, quickly mobilized his men and moved to the palace, where they met the hoodlums shooting sporadically within the palace.
The policemen engaged them in shootout and eventually subdued the cultists and got six amongst them arrested.
On interrogation, the arrested suspects confessed been members of the dreaded Eiye confraternity. They also informed the police that, it was the son of the Oba who is now at large that invited them to come and eliminate his father because of an unresolved issue the Oba has been having with his mother. ”Oyeyemi said
The police spokesperson added that Items recovered from them include one locally made double barrel pistol, two live cartridges and one expended cartridge, while the son of the Oba who has taken to flight was said to have escaped with another gun belonging to the group.
He added that the state Commissioner of Police, CP Lanre Bankole has ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to State Criminal Investigation Departments for discreet investigation with the view to charge them to court on the conclusion of the investigation.
The CP also ordered a massive manhunt for the fleeing son of the Oba in order to bring him to justice.
Why we raided Abuja hotel – NDLEA
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have raided and sealed Diplomatic Suite Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja in a joint operation with men of the Department of State Services, DSS to stop a cannabis party and the launch of a suspected new psychoactive drink.
About 200 attendees including three young ladies who organised the hemp party are currently being profiled and interviewed while bottles of the new drink have been taken for lab analysis.
The hotel was raided at about 8:18pm on Wednesday 20th April following actionable intelligence that some youths were planning to hold a hemp party at the hotel. Quantities of cannabis sativa were recovered from the pockets and bags of those arrested at the hemp party.
The audacious party no doubt is part of attempts by some elements to create a drug subculture in the Nigerian social space. The NDLEA will however continue to work with other security agencies and relevant stakeholders to ensure abuse of illicit substances is not allowed to get entrenched in the country under any guise.
FG Approves Procurement Of Lie Detectors, Night Vision Goggles For NDLEA
The Federal Government has approved the purchase of lie detectors and night vision Goggles for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
This was disclosed by the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
“Two memos were presented this afternoon by the federal ministry of justice on behalf of and at the instance of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA),” the minister said.
“One was a memo seeking the approval of the council for the award of contract for the supply of eye-scanning lie detector.
“Our technology has improved to the extent that we have in place technological equipment that has the capacity to detect whether you are indeed speaking the truth or indeed you are lying in the course of investigation.
“So, for the purpose of enhancing the capacity of the NDLEA in exterminating illicit drug trafficking, sales, and consumption, the Federal Government has considered the need and possibility of indeed providing this equipment to NDLEA.
“So, the memo in that respect was presented, it was taken and the contract was approved for Messrs Zettabytes Technologies Limited to procure for the agency this lie detector equipment.
“On that account, the Federal Executive Council approved the award of contract for the supply of eye-scanning lie detector by the NDLEA in favour of Messrs Zettabytes Technologies Limited in the sum of N498,850,000 only, inclusive of 7.5% VAT with a completion period of 90 days.
“The second memo sought the approval of the council for the supply of digital night vision goggles. This is intended to support the night operations of NDLEA.”
He said: “The council graciously approved the award of the contract with the supply of digital night vision goggles in favour of Messrs R-SET Integrated Solution Limited in the sum of N570,825,000 only, inclusive of 7.5% value-added tax with a completion period of weeks.”
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