20 November 2012

Nigeria: Witness Denies Saying Atuche Gave Money to Church

Trial in the ongoing case against the former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank), Francis Atuche and three others continued yesterday with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as the anti graft agency produced one of its witnesses, Mr. Bolaji Ogunsola, who had requested for court's protection over fear of attack.

At the resumed trial, the witness was cross-examined by the defence team, where he denied ever saying in his evidence before the court that the first defendant, Atuche gave money to church.

Ogunsola, an ex-Deputy General Manager of Mortgages PHB in a cross-examination by Anthony Idigbe, SAN, said "What I said is that an instrument was given by Clearmont. I didn't say the first defendant gave money to the church.

"There's no email that was issued by the first defendant and I didn't confirm from him whether it was his instruction."

Atuche, is being charged with his wife Elizabeth and the former Chief Financial Officer in the bank, Ugo Anyanwu for allegedly stealing N27.5 billion belonging to the bank by the anti graft agency.

He explained that though Atuche was the sole signatory of the account in contention, his review of all accounts in Mortgages PHB revealed that there is no sufficient information to confirm that Atuche is the owner of the account.

He also denied that Atuche ever issued a cheque for money to be paid to his church or his lawyer's firm.

The trial Judge, Justice Latifat Okunnu adjourned the matter till December 4, 2012 to take the application by the defence to recall a prosecution witness, Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi and for further hearing.

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