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News Alert: Court freezes jailed ex-bank PHB MD, Atuche’s N19.1b stashed in 24 banks

 Owolola Adebola

Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has ordered the freezing of the assets and funds to the tune of N19, 178, 253,050 belonging to a convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche.

The Judge gave the order on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on August 17, 2021.

The funds, investigation showed, were domiciled in 24 different banks in Nigeria, including Citi Bank Limited; Ecobank Nigeria Limited; First Bank of Nigeria Plc; First City Monument Bank (FCMB); Globus Bank Limited; Fidelity Bank Plc; Keystone Bank Limited; Lotus Bank Limited and Mainstreet Bank Plc.

Others are: Polaris Bank Plc; Platinum Mortgage Bank Limited; Providus Bank Limited; Stanbic IBTC Nigeria Limited; Standard Chartered Bank; Sterling Bank Plc; Wema Bank Plc; Zenith Bank Plc; Unity Bank Plc; Titan Trust Bank Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and others.

Moving the application, counsel to the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, told the court that 15 persons, as well as 22 firms, were used by Atuche and his co-respondent, Ugo Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, to launder the funds.

Pinheiro listed the individuals to include Anthony Atuche, Emeka Patrick Atuche, Paul Okobi, Felix Oyiana, Moruf Kazeem Adisa, Olatunji Abiodun, Daniel Enebeli, Aina Olugbenga, Augustine Nwabueze, Omonua Benedict, Oliver King Nduaaron, Dr. Chris Ike Ogbechie, Mr. Murat Bektaslar, Attah Omataikpo Olukemi and Thomas Etuh.

The EFCC counsel further stated that the firms, in which Atuche has either direct or indirect interest are: Aqua Harvest Limited, Hubmart Stores Limited, Hubmart Limited, Sapphire Capital Management Limited, Homeland Real Estate Company Limited, Malechi Foods Limited, Homeland Meridian Partners Limited, Promise Investment Limited and Temple Cottage Hotel Limited.

Others are: Wegas Properties Project Limited, Buckhead Construction Limited, Claremount Management Services Limited, Afco Associates Limited, Platinum Capital Limited, Ghazali Yakubu Investment Limited, The Financial (Services) Company Limited,  Venture Resources Limited, Elizabeth-A Company Limited, Signature Partners Limited, Purplepay Technologies Limited, Oakwood Asset Management Limited and Conesto Nigeria Limited

Justice Okunnu granted the 12 prayers of the applicant and held that “An order is made restraining the 1st defendant (Atuche) whether by himself or acting through the persons or entities listed or such other persons including but not limited to his family members or agents, from removing, alienating, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of assets, proceeds of economic and financial crimes or otherwise in the name of the 1st defendant.”

The Judge also held that “the assets or funds included those held indirectly by or for Atuche’s benefit, whether solely or jointly held, that are located in Nigeria or worldwide.”

Justice Okunnu further ordered the freezing of any bank account being run and operated by Atuche “personally or jointly, whether in his personal name or otherwise or with the Bank Verification Number (BVN) 22295357230 in any of the respondent banks to the tune of N19, 178, 253, 050 billion, pursuant to the Restitution Order made by this Honourable Court on June 16, 2021.”

Atuche and his privies, including his lawyers, were also barred from presenting to the above-listed banks “any mandate or instruction for the withdrawal of any money and/or funds standing to the credit of any of their accounts to the tune of N19, 178, 253. 050 billion.”

Justice Okunnu, who also restrained the banks from honouring any such instruction from Atuche and his privies, further held that “ A mandatory order of injunction is made directing the named respondent banks to file within 48 hours of service of this Order of this Honourable Court on their returns of the Statements of Account of the 1st Defendant (personally or jointly) whether in his personal name or otherwise or with the Bank Verification Number: 22295357230 and the accounts of persons and entities listed in the aforementioned Schedules A and B maintained with them.

“A further order is made directing service of the Order made herein on persons affected thereby including, in particular, the persons and entities listed in Schedules A and B. by way of advertisement in either The Punch or Thisday or The Guardian newspaper.”

Justice Okunnu had, in June this year, sentenced Atuche to six years imprisonment and Anyanwu four years for stealing and conspiracy to steal to the tune of N25.7bn.

The judge, while sentencing the duo, had ordered them to make restitution of the sum of N25.7bn to the Federal Government to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.

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Headlines

Sambo commends Bello- Koko over NPA’s revenue increase 

 

— reiterates commitment to Lekki deep seaport project
The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation,  Engr Muazu Sambo, has lauded the efforts of Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), which he said have made the agency as one of the highest revenue-generating organs of government in the maritime industry.
Making the commendation recently during his visit to the agency, Sambo said he was impressed by the positioning of the port industry and the turn- around strides of the NPA MD in the agency which he said has caught the attention of the federal government.

The Minister, who was accompanied by the Hon. Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation Dr. Magdalene Ajani, some Directors and other top officials of the Ministry, stated that the Muhammadu Buhari -led administration was quite pleased with the reforms being implemented by the NPA Management in moving the nation forward, especially in view of the positive developments the sub-sector brought to the nation’s economy in line with international best practices.

“The Muhammadu Buhari- led administration was quite elated with Bello -Koko and his management team for their efforts at resuscitating and boosting the  economy,  especially the Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) which has cushioned the  effects of the  resources of the nation that have nosedived as a result of  the fall in the prices of crude oil”

Sambo also solicited further cooperation from other relevant stakeholders, while assuring them and the maritime community of the readiness of the government to provide the enabling environment and support to make the industry thrive and attract foreign investments.

” MD,  I must state that Council is happy with you and your team. I  commend you and your management team for your efforts in moving the nation forward, especially in the area of an increase in revenue generation to government coffers.
” You have done well, but I call on you to further block all other grey areas .”

Engr. Sambo further reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that the Lekki Deep Seaport project commences operations as scheduled before the end of 2022.

According to him, the Lekki Deep Seaport and the recently approved Badagry Deep Sea Port would create an avenue for jobs for Nigerians,  encourage trade and investments and further boost revenue generation for the country.

The Minister further called on his host to ensure the full implementation of barge operations at the Ports to further facilitate the movement of goods from the seaports.

He said this would also be beneficial to the nation in the area of more jobs for those in the business of fabrication as well as reduce the cost of doing business by investors.

” We are ready to assist you in ensuring that the use of barges is fully implemented in your operations.
” We need to work the talk whilst we wait for the conclusion of other means of evacuation of boxes from the ports to cushion the effect of logistics through land transportation”

Earlier,  Bello Koko informed his guests of his management’s resolve to further position the nation’s sea ports in line with International best practices.

He appreciated the efforts of the Ministry in providing support to the Authority at all times, whilst soliciting assistance in other areas of operations.

The NPA MD assured the Minister and his team that the present management under his watch would ensure that operations of its services are further improved upon in view of the constant global competitiveness towards attaining a hub status within the sub-Sahara Africa.

Koko stated that NPA has begun the process of acquiring additional tug boats and pilot cutters for its officials to facilitate the operations.

This, he said, would further reduce vessel waiting time and attract investments to the ports.

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Headlines

Transport Minister collaborates with army, others to secure release of 23 remaining Abuja-Kaduna train attack victims

Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims

 

The Eyewitness reporter
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Muazu Sambo, has given vent to his vow to facilitate the release of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack victims when, in collaboration with other members of the seven-man Presidential  Action Committee assembled by the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General L E O Irabor, secured the release and took custody of all the 23 remaining passengers held hostage by Boko Haram Terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train on 28-3-2022.
As a result of the deft negotiating skills of the members of the committee, the terrorists on Wednesday freed 23 remaining captives of the Abuja- Kaduna train attack.
This was disclosed by the Secretary of the Chief of Defence Staff Action Committee,  Professor Usman Yusuf.

Yusuf said that the hostages were released at about 4 pm on Wednesday.

He said that the committee took custody of the victims who were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists during an attack on a moving passenger train in Kaduna on March 28, 2022.

The terrorists, who attacked the AK9 Train in Kaduna, had before now released hostages piecemeal with the last release being on August 19, 2022.

“The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Nigerian Military under the leadership of the CDS who conceived and guided the operation from start to finish.
“All sister security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Transportation contributed immensely to this Operation.
“The unwavering support of the President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCEFR is what made it all possible.
” Members of this Committee are grateful for the rare honour and privilege to be part of this Humanitarian Operation” declared Prof. Yusuf.
The insurgents had blown up the rail track and bombed the moving train, killing some and abducting more than 60 passengers.
The unprecedented attack had attracted international and national outrage.

Distraught family members had protested several times to demand the release of their loved ones.

Worried about the situation, the Nigeria Railway Corporation temporarily suspended activities, with President Muhammadu Buhari directing security agencies to rescue the victims after he met their families.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, had said the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will not resume until all those kidnapped by bandits in March are rescued and reunited with their families.

A terrorist negotiator, Tukur Mamu, was on September 6, 2022, arrested in Cairo, Egypt while on his way to Saudi Arabia and returned to Nigeria the next day.

The Department of State Services had alleged that Mamu, who negotiated between terrorists and families of kidnap victims, was part of an international terrorist network and used the cover of journalism to perpetrate his deeds.

Popular Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to whom Mamu is an aide, had faulted the arrest of Mamu.

Gumi had asked the security agency to charge Mamu to court if it had any evidence against him, rather than keeping him in custody.

But the DSS, in its reaction, said it would not be distracted by some skewed narratives in the media and requested to be left alone to concentrate on the ongoing investigations, the outcomes of which it said have remained ‘mind boggling’.

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EyeWitness Lens

Eyewitness Lens! NPA celebrates global Customer service week(Photo)

Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(6 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(5 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4 th left) and
other senior officers of the NPA during the celebration of 2022 global
Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko
(5 th left)), Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Adenrele S. Adesina
(6 th left)), the General Manager, SERVICOM, Shehu Musa Yaro (4th left) and
officers of the SERVICOM department during the celebration of 2022
global Customer Service Week at the NPA headquarters in Lagos.
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