The Lagos State High Court, presided over by Justice L.A. Okunnu has discharged Mr. Thomas Etuh of complicity in the money laundering charges preferred against Messrs. Francis Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu.
The discharge order, which was made on September 21, 2021, followed an application by Etuh and others who were earlier erroneously thought to have played a part in the alleged money laundering activities of the former Managing Director of the defunct BankPHD.
But following the submission of evidence and necessary particulars necessary for their discharge, the court, having considered the affidavit evidence, ruled that Etuh and the others have been discharged and released from the effects of the earlier Orders.
It will be recalled that on August 21, 2021, the Court ordered the freezing of assets and funds amounting to N19,178,253,050 allegedly kept in 24 banks by Francis Atuche, the convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB.
The banks include; Access Bank Plc, Citi Bank Ltd, Ecobank Nigeria Ltd, Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, First City Monument Bank and Globus Bank Ltd.
Others include Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Ltd, Keystone Bank Ltd, Lotus Bank Ltd, Mainstreet Bank Plc, Polaris Bank Plc, Platinum Mortgage Bank Ltd, Providus Bank Ltd and Stanbic IBTC Nigeria Ltd.
The rest are Standard Chartered Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Titan Trust Bank Ltd, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
Lateefat Okunnu, the judge who convicted the banker in June, made the order sequel to an August 17 application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Charge No. ID/1549/2011 between the Federal Government on the one hand and Mr. Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu as first and defendants.
The Court, in that ruling, also mentioned Etuh and 15 others, as role players in the charges preferred against Atuche and Anyanwu.
But by its latest discharge Order, the Court has fully absolved Etuh of any complicity in the crimes allegedly committed by the convicted bankers. Commenting on the discharge order, Etuh, who is the Chairman of TAK Agro Group expressed delight at the development, saying it has restored his integrity as a business man. He expressed his confidence on the capacity of the Nigerian judiciary to protect every segment of the Nigerian population, irrespective of social strata.