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N10.9b theft charge: Court refuses to discharge ex-Finbank chiefs

By on October 8, 2013

nwosuAn Ikeja High Court on Tuesday dismissed the no-case submissions filed by a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Okey Nwosu, and three others.

Nwosu and the three former directors — Dayo Famoroti, Danjuma Ocholi and Agnes Ebubedike — are being prosecuted over alleged theft of N10.9 billion belonging to Finbank (now FCMB).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the former bank chiefs are facing a 26-count amended charge of stealing.

The defendants had on Sept.16 filed their no-case submissions, asking the court to discharge and acquit them of the charge.

Defence Counsel — Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), Mr Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and James Ocholi (SAN) — had argued that the prosecution had not established a prima-facie case against the defendants.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had urged the court to dismiss the applications.

Jacobs argued that sufficient evidence was before the court which needed answers from the defendants.

In her ruling, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, said there was a nexus between the defendants and the theft charge.

She said the prosecution had alleged that the four defendants granted loans worth N20 billion without the approval or knowledge of Finbank’s board of directors.

Okunnu also noted that the prosecution had alleged that the loans were disbursed to seven companies through a subsidiary of the bank — Springboard Investment Ltd — to purchase the bank’s shares.

According to her, the prosecution claimed that the said shares were later crossed and transferred to the defendants without due process.

Okunnu ruled:“I am of the objective view that all these evidence `suggest’ a link of all the defendants to the charge of stealing.

“There is enough evidence to make it expedient for them to give answers and explanations regarding their conducts, vis-a-vis the said transactions.’’

The judge said it was necessary for them to open their defence in the overriding interest of justice.

“It is my finding that the respective no-case submissions cannot be upheld.

“Each of the four applications before the court, therefore, fails and they are accordingly dismissed,” Okunnu said.

The case was adjourned till Dec.16 for the defendants to open their defence. (NAN)