Following his application and that of his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Atuche to throw out charges against them in court, Justice Okunnu of Lagos State High ruled that the former Bank PHP Managing Director, Mr. Atuche must open his defense to the charges preferred against him by the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations relating to massive fraud at his former bank.
In opening his defense today, Mr. Atuche, who is alleged of defrauding the former Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank) to the tune of N27billion, brought acclaimed Lagos-based social activist and economic pundit, Professor Pat Utomi to give testimonies in the matter.
In a testimony that spanned hours without as much presentation of documents to buttress claims, Professor Pat Utomi alleged the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi of engineering the crisis which rocked the bank.
” Sanusi (CBN Governor) is my friend. He told me that Atuche was the problem of the bank PHB, and that he should to be removed ,” Utomi said in court today.
Utomi, once a presidential candidate of African Democratic Party in the 2011 elections told court in his testimony that the CBN Governor confided in him of the decision to kick out Atuche from the board of the bank. He said the storm which threw the former bank managing director, Atuche out, raged only few weeks after the revelation was made to him by the CBN Governor.
Utomi quoted also stated that a former spokesperson to late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Mr. Segun Adeniyi as well corroborated his assertion in a book he wrote claiming that certain decisions were taken at the Presidential Villa to take over some banks, among which was the Bank PHB whose board Mr. Atuche headed. Dr. Utomi’s testimony largely suggested that the storm on the bank PHB, and the fraud allegation was a conspiracy by the CBN Governor and certain elements in the presidency under late President Yar’ Adua.
The witness said every issue then in the bank, after Mr. Sanusi took an interest, was given serious scrutiny.
” Even Cheque fleeting was petitioned to the President ,” Utomi claimed.
Mr. Atuche’s serious attempt at presenting a document through his lawyer again failed today due to prosecution’s objection that it failed to meet certain legal requirements as ” evidence ” in court. The prosecution argued successfully that the document was only admitted in an earlier matter because it was just for the purpose of showing it to an investigator to ascertain that he saw the document during the preliminary investigations in the case. The document, saharareporters learned, is a minute of board meeting indicating that one of the huge loans upon which Atuche was indicted was board’s decision and not granted unilaterally by Mr. Atuche.
Justice Lateefat Okunnu adjourned the matter to September 16th and 17th for continuation of the trial.