An Ikeja High Court on Monday struck out a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Mr Francis Atuche, a former managing director of the defunct Bank PHB, his wife, and ex-Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu.
It would be recalled that the EFCC had arraigned the accused for allegedly stealing N25.7billion belonging to the bank when Atuche served as its Managing Director.
The commission had instituted a 27-count charge bordering on stealing and conspiracy against the three accused in 2011.
Delivering judgment, the trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, held that the EFCC failed to prove that the defendants stole money from the bank.
He also dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction and also on the ground that the prosecution’s case lacked merit.
“I find no merit in the prosecution’s application and it is hereby dismissed. The defendants’ application dated November 27, 2013 succeeds.
“I, hereby, make the following orders:
“The criminal charge in this suit is hereby struck out and the accused persons namely- Francis Atuche, Elizabeth Atuche and Ugo Anyawu are discharged.
“The complainant’s notice of preliminary objection dated December 3, 2013 is, hereby, dismissed,’’ the judge ordered.
Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Sylvia Ogwemoh (SAN), the counsel to the accused, had in separate applications asked the court to quash the charge, citing a judicial precedent in a Court of Appeal judgment of November 21, 2013.