The Ministry of Justice has submitted the name of Judge Albert Wood for ratification as a Supreme Court Judge to Parliament inspite of a complaint of professional misconduct lodged against him at the Judicial Complaints Authority.
Judge Wood had been accused of illegally and unlawfully releasing information to Director of Public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito and his business partner Fred M’membe which resulted into the suspension of Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda and two High Court Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna and the subsequent establishment of the discredited Judge Lovemore Chikopa Tribunal.
But the Parliamentary select committee on the ratification of the two newly appointed Supreme Court Judges has been urged not to allow Judge Albert Wood to present himself before the committee until after the Judicial Complaints Authority had cleared him of the judicial transgressions he is alleged to have committed.
Douglas Syakalima who is special advisor to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema said it was a scandal for the Ministry of Justice to have gone ahead to push for the ratification of Judge Wood when the Judicial Complaints Authority had commenced investigations against him (Wood).
Syakalima said Judge Wood should not attempt to present himself before the Parliamentary select committee until after he has told the nation how the case file involving Nchito and M’membe over the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) loan saga moved from his chambers to Judge Mutuna without him complaining or following procedure as laid down by law.
Syakalima said the Ministry of Justice in collusion with a selected group of people who had put the Judiciary under siege was being mischievous for pushing for the ratification of Judge Wood when the man was being probed over the irregular release of the case file involving the DBZ. loan saga.
Syakalima advised Judge Wood to decline the appointment because his credibility as High Court Judge had been damaged and that his appointment to the Supreme Court was going to further destroy the integrity of the Judiciary.
He said now that President Sata was back into the country, he should take bold steps and revoke the appointment of Judge Wood adding that should he be cleared of the allegations of professional misconduct, he would still be eligible for the position.
“Why is the Ministry of Justice pushing for the ratification of Judge Wood as Supreme Court Judge when the man is under probe by the Judicial Complaints Authority? Why is it that the people at the Ministry of Justice cannot wait until after Judge Wood has been cleared of his allegations? We still demand that he should explain how the case file involving DBZ loan left his chambers and was transferred to Judge Nigel Mutuna. Judge Wood is also alleged to have discussed the movement of the file with his friends Nchito and M’membe and we want to know if if that was not a breach of the constitution,” Syakalima said.
Syakalima said if Judge Wood was a man with morals, he was going to write to President Sata informing him that he was unable to take up the appointment because he was the subject of judicial investigations.
“Please Judge Wood; do not attempt to present yourself to the select committee. And if there are morals, I appeal that the select committee should not entertain him because the man has things to explain. How does he accept such an appointment when he knows he has a scandal to clear?” Syakalima wondered.