I know nothing – witness

Former High Commissioner to Nigeria Alex Luhila yesterday told the Lusaka Magistrates Court that he did not know anything about the oil deal allegedly involving former republican president Rupiah Banda.

In the continued hearing of the case in which  the former head of state  is charged with one count of  abuse of authority, Mr Luhila told Chief Resident Magistrate  Joshua Banda that the only thing he knew about the petroleum issue was escorting  former High Commissioner to Malawi Richard Kachingwe to offices of the Nigerian Petroleum Company

During the examination in chief led by Mutembo Nchito, Mr Luhila told the court he only accompanied Maj Kachingwe to the oil company offices and waited for him in the foyer as he was not privy to Maj Kachingwe’s mission

Earlier Magistrate Banda also refused to admit as evidence a photocopy of the letter purported to have been written by Rupiah Banda to late President Yaradua of Nigeria which was produced by the Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Mutembo Nchito.

Magistrate Banda said the prosecution has failed to convince his court the reasons for producing a photocopy of the letter.

The letter is said to have been found at the house of former Energy Minister Kenneth Konga and allegedly to have been written by the former head of state soliciting for oil from late president Yaradua.

It is alleged that on dates unknown but between May 1,2008 and September 24, 2011 Mr Banda did abuse his authority by procuring a Nigerian government to government oil deal intended to  benefit him and his family.

The former head of state is alleged to have asked for 45,000 barrels per day and that the Zambian government actually paid US$2.5 million to the Nigerian oil firm supplier.

Mr Rupiah Banda’s defence team brought into disrepute a photocopy letter produced by a Police Officer Derrick Kasonka as evidence of the itemized documents and goods collected from Mr Konga’s house.

The defence team comprising Professor Patrick Mvunga, Erick Silwamba, Lubinda Linyama, Stephen Lungu, Sakwiba Sikota and Ireen Kunda told Magistrate Banda that the list had so many alterations and was not counter signed by Konga as per normal procedure.

They argued that it was therefore possible that someone could have inserted new items after the search team left Mr Konga’s house.

It was further discovered that Kasonka signed on a provision that was preserved for an Anti Corruption Commission officer as the policve officer also contradicted himself when he earlier told the court that he was in custody of the documents from the time they were collected but yesterday  changed his mind during cross examination by Professor Patrick Mvunga,  and said he had handed over the documents to the Government Joint Investigation Team in January 2013.

When asked by another defence lawyer Lubinda Linyama whether he had a hand over certificate as a normal procedure,

Kasonka who said he had been in the Police Service for 23 years also admitted that he made a serious omission when he did  not prepare a handover certificate for the documents collected from Mr Konga’s residence.

The hearing continues today.

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