Court News

RB abuse of authority case deferred

By KABANDA CHULU and MWILA NTAMBI
THE case in which former President Rupiah Banda is charged with abuse of authority of office in an oil deal involving a Nigerian company has been adjourned to September 5, 2014 because the ruling in a preliminary issue raised was not ready.
Last week, Mr Banda, through his lawyers, applied in the magistrate’s court that the High Court should determine constitutional issues on whether Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito should continue prosecuting the case or not.
In his application, Mr Banda stated that he will not be accorded a fair trial if Mr Nchito continues prosecuting the case. Mr Banda has alleged that Mr Nchito was an interested party.
However, when the case came up for ruling to determine if it could be referred to the High Court, principal magistrate Obbister Musukwa, who sat in for chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda, said the ruling was not ready and he adjourned it to September 5, 2014.
It is alleged that between May 1, 2008 and September 24, 2011, Mr Banda, being a person employed in the public service, as President of the Republic of Zambia, abused the authority of his office.
He is alleged to have procured a US$2.5 million Nigerian government-to-government oil contract in the name of the Republic of Zambia between the Zambian government and SARB, a Nigerian oil company.
And the case in which acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda is seeking to have United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema  cited for contempt failed to take off in the Kitwe High Court yesterday because one of the lawyers representing her was reported to be sick.
And Kitwe High Court judge-in-charge Catherine Makungu on Monday set aside the bench warrant she issued against Mr Hichilema on grounds that he appeared to have learnt a lesson and had humbled himself.
Ms Justice Chibesakunda, through her lawyers, wants the High Court to cite Mr Hichilema for contempt of court for allegedly commenting on her tenure of office as Chief Justice when the matter is still active in court.
The Law Association of Zambia has challenged the appointment of Ms Chibesakunda as Chief Justice.
When the case of alleged contempt came up yesterday, Justice Chibesakunda’s lawyer, Richard Mandona, asked the court to adjourn it because his colleague was unwell.
He said Mr Charles Chanda, who has been appearing before the court since the case began, fell ill and had not recovered by yesterday morning.
Mr Mandona said he could not proceed with prosecuting the case alone because he was also a potential witness in the matter.
But Mr Hichilema’s lawyer, Milner Katolo, was unhappy about the adjournment saying his client has been under extreme anxiety and pressure.
He also submitted that the issue of being a potential witness was known from inception when the contempt application was made and adequate arrangements should have been made.
He said Permanent Chambers were disqualified from prosecuting the contempt matter based on rules number 33 and 34 of the Legal Practitioners Practice Rules contained in Statutory Instrument number 51 of 2002.
Mrs Justice Makungu observed that in view of the said rules, it was important for Permanent Chambers to withdraw from representing Ms Justice Chibesakunda in the contempt proceedings and advise their client to find another advocate.
She adjourned the case to October 7, for hearing of the alleged contempt after considering Mr Chanda’s illness and the issue relating to the legal practitioners rules.



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