N25.7b theft: Power outage stalls Atuche’s trial

Power outage at the premises of the Ikeja High Court in Lagos State on Wednesday stalled the trial of a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.
Atuche and his wife, Elizabeth, are standing trial over alleged theft of N25.7 billion belonging to the bank (now Keystone Bank).
They are being prosecuted alongside a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, before Justice Lateefat Okunnu.
However the proceedings could not go on as scheduled on Wednesday because of power outage, which affected some courtrooms at the complex.
One of the generators supplying power to the new court complex, where Okunnu’s courtroom is situated, was said to have developed a fault.
The situation forced the court to adjourn the case till September 26 for Atuche to continue his testimony.
Atuche had earlier denied the theft charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former bank chief had said that he could not engage in theft as a member of Catholic faith.
He also told the court how he grew a mortgage finance company – Pinnacle Investment Limited – and transformed it into Platinum Bank Plc.
Atuche said the bank had to merge with Habib Bank following the mandatory N25 billion recapitalisation policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria under the former Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo.
According to him, the merger gave birth to Bank PHB, which became one of the strongest banks in Nigeria while he was the Chief Executive Officer.