EFCC arraigns Atuche, two others for forgery

Atuche and another suspect

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday arraigned a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank Limited), Francis Atuche, and two other suspects: Nnosiri Joachim (a.k.a. Ifeanyi) and Uguru Onyike, before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo of the Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja on a nine count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit felony and forgery.
When the charges were read to them, all the defendants pleaded not guilty.
Prosecution counsel, Ben Ubi, prayed the court for a trial date and also demanded that the defendants be remanded in prison custody.
However counsel to the first defendant, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, told the court he had already filed a bail application dated March 26, 2013 before the court and sued for immediate hearing of the application.
Ubi, however, denied receiving a copy of the bail application.
But Oyetibo argued that since the fresh arraignment of Atuche and two other defendants for forgery was an offshoot of an ongoing case before Justice Lateefa Okunnu, there should be no difficulty by the court in admitting him to bail.
This was countered by Ubi who insisted that the charges were new and derived from happenings at Keystone Bank’s on March 4, 2013.
In his ruling, Justice Onigbanjo allowed Atuche to return home “and come tomorrow for hearing of his bail application”.
On the second and third defendants, Justice Onigbanjo upheld the prayers of their counsels that they be allowed to continue on the terms of an administrative bail already offered them by the EFCC.
Justice Onigbanjo adjourned the case till March 27, 2013 for hearing of the bail application of the first and third defendants and March 28, 2013 for hearing of the second defendant’s bail application.
He fixed trial for October 10, 14 and 15, 2013.
Trouble started for Atuche when he allegedly recently contacted Joachim Nnosiri, an Office Assistant with Keystone Bank’s Central Sharing Services Centre in Lagos, to deliver some allegedly forged documents to the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters also in Lagos for onward presentation in court as exhibits in an ongoing case between Atuche and the EFCC before Justice Okunnu.
The forged documents are board resolutions of Future View Securities Limited, Extra Oil Limited and Trajek Nigeria Limited.
The documents had been missing in the bank since October 2009.
One of the charges against the defendants read: “Mr Francis Atuche, Nnosiri Joachim (a.k.a Ifeanyi) and Uguru Onyike on or about 4th day of March, 2013, in Lagos with the Ikeja Judicial Division, with intent to defraud conspired to commit felony to wit: forgery of a document titled: “BOARD RESOLUTION” of Future View Securities Limited dated 17th December, 2007.”
Another count reads: “Nnosiri Joachim (a.k.a Ifeanyi) on or about 4th day of March, 2013 in Lagos within the Ikeja Judicial Division with intent to defraud knowingly and fraudulently used a false document titled Board Resolution of Trajek Nigeria Limited dated 15th December 2007 which you purported to have been duly signed by one Elizabeth Ebi (a Director of Trajek Nigeria Limited) to Keystone Bank Limited as genuine.”