Not a single drop of Nigerian Oil landed in Lusaka under the agreement on which former President Banda had his immunity lifted for prosecution, instead in a new twist of events, the Patriotic Front (PF) government is now deeply involved in the same Nigerian Oil deal.
Testifying before Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda, the Nigerian oil tycoon Akpane Ekpene said that the PF government had continued with the oil deal with his company after the former President Banda lost the election and could not therefore execute the agreement.
Mr. Ekpene revealed that his company SARB Energy sourced and paid US$2.5 million to Nigerian National Corporation producing (NNCP) under the ministry of Petroleum for the shipment of 45 000 barrels of oil that was supposed to be delivered to Zambia but was not.
Mr. Ekpene said that he was able to pay US$2.5 million to the NNCP for the oil deal as an agent on behalf of the Zambian government.
Mr. Ekpene also disclosed that a payment of US$500 000 was paid to Henry Banda for consultancy services through a newly established company whose offices were in Hong Kong called Ioxora International Limited for consultancy works for the 450 MW combined cycle power generation plant to be located in Nigeria.
The company according to Mr. Ekpene was formed on his advice to circumvent Nigerian Laws.
He told Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday that his company was now working with the PF government after the former ruling party lost elections to supply oil to Zambia in a government to government deal.
Mr. Ekpene who is Managing Director of the Sarb Energy Limited in Nigeria told the court that former minister of Defence George Mpombo and his counterpart for Energy Kenneth Konga recommended for the approval of the oil contract between Zambia and Nigeria.
Mr. Ekpene who gave a chronology of events said that after a period of time without any headway he (Ekpene) was advised to ask the Zambian authorities to send an official to arrange a meeting with the Nigerian special principal secretary to the president who was going to explainthe steps taken by Zambia.
He said that in the process, the Nigerian president died without approving the contract to lift oil to Zambia and no payments were made.
He said that after some time he pleaded with Maj. Kachingwe to rein-state the deal after the death of President Yarodua especially that he had information that Mr. Banda was close to the new Nigerian President GoodluckJonathan.
“I called Maj. Kachingwe to inform him that the new president was a good friend of RB but Maj. Kachingwe refused on grounds that the Zambia government could be seen as asking the Nigerian government to do what it could not do. I pleaded to visit him in Malawi and he accepted.”
He said that after the deal was approved by the Nigerian National Corporation Producing (NNCP) he began to work towards payments of the deposit which was required.
In his continued testimony Mr. Ekpene said that former President Banda saw nothing wrong in the deal saying that it would be good for the country.
“After the briefing, Mr. Mpombo (George) approved the idea saying the deal would not cost the country anything and could be used for poverty alleviation. While Mr. Kunda (George) also saw nothing wrong with the proposal in as far as the country would not pay anything. Mr. Sichinga (one of the advisors to the President) indicated that, Indeni could not process the Nigerian oil and Mr. Konga added that the oil could be swapped with suitable oil used in Zambia.”
Mr. Ekpene also told court that former President Banda concluded that he would write to the Nigerian President to request for the oil deal (contract), adding that Maj. Kachingwe would convey the message through diplomatic channel.
He further told court that after going back to Nigeria he heard nothing from the Zambian government until after the electionwhen Maj. Kachingwe promised to arrange for a meeting with the president elect.
Mr. Ekpene said that Maj. Kachingwe later took him and his colleagues to meet the former President.
“The President thanked me for showing solidarity with him. He confirmed to me that Maj. Kachingwe will be sent to Nigeria as a special envoy. I also suggested to him that he must visit his Nigerian counterpart. He indicated to me that he (RB) was already considering visiting Nigeria,” he said.
He told court that according to his knowledge Maj. Kachingwe was mandated by former President Banda to handle the oil deal on behalf of the Zambian government and Nigeria.
Mr. Ekpene said that in April 2009, he went to the ministryof Petroleum in Nigeria following the oil deal with the stamped letters he was given by Maj. Kachingwe to see some officials who confided in him saying that the letter which was handed to the ministry did not follow the proper channel.
“Instead of sending it to the President of Nigeria, it was taken to the ministry. I was advised that it was only the president who could approve the request and not any other person. I thereafter informed Maj. Kachingwe about it since he was the one who was mandated to handle the deal,” he said.