After a trial that lasted over 12 years, a Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja 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.
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.
Justice Okunnu 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.