The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, affirmed the conviction of a former Managing Director of defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche, of N25.7bn fraud, but reduced his sentence of 12 years to six years.
The court also affirmed the conviction of Atuche’s co- convict, Ugo Anyanwu, and reduced his 10 years imprisonment by the lower court for stealing and conspiracy to steal to eight years.
Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, had on June 16, 2021, sentenced Atuche and Anyanwu to 12 years and 10 years imprisonment respectively.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the lower court, Atuche and Anyanwu approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment and prayed the appellate court to set aside the decision of the lower court.
The appeal, which was on 76 grounds, was heard on April 5, 2022.
The judgment was delivered in part by a three -man panel of the appeal court.
The lead judge, Justice Sadiq Umar, delivered the judgment while Justice Adebukola Banjoko and Justice Kayode Bada affirmed the judgment of the lead justice.
The justices resolved all the issues in the appeal in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, except for the issue of sentencing.
The appellate court clarified that Atuche’s jail term, as handed down by the lower court, is six years concurrently, rather than 12 years.
In the abridged judgment read by Justice Umar, the three-man panel upheld EFCC’s arguments and unanimously dismissed the appeal.
Justice Okunnu had, while sentencing the duo, upheld the arguments of Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) who prosecuted the case on behalf of the EFCC with the fiat of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).