BREAKING: Supreme Court upholds conviction of ex-bank PHB MD, Atuche

After 13 years of legal battle, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has upheld the conviction of the former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Mr Francis Atuche.

The Court affirmed the rulings of the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court underlined that Francis Atuche had not presented enough evidence to refute the lower courts’ conclusions about his trustworthiness.

The court restated its position that, in cases where a trial court’s judgement on a party’s or witness’s demeanour is backed by documentary evidence, an appeal court should not become involved.

In 2011, Atuche, his spouse Elizabeth, and Ugo Anyanwu were charged on 27 counts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pertaining to a N25.7 billion fraudulent scheme.

On June 16, 2021, Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos High Court found Atuche and Anyanwu guilty as a consequence of the prosecution, which was headed by Dr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN).

They were given sentences of 12 years and 10 years in jail, respectively, after being found guilty on 21 of the 27 counts of conspiracy to conduct felony and theft.

Later, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentences of Atuche and Anyanwu to six and eight years, respectively, but upheld Elizabeth Atuche’s acquittal on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to connect her to the crime.

Atuche and Anyanwu filed an appeal with the Supreme Court after being unhappy with the appellate court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, which upholds Atuche and Anyanwu’s convictions and sentences brings to an end the more than ten-year legal battle.

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