A state witness yesterday
exonerated former president Rupiah Banda when he testified that Zambia did not lose a single cent in the Nigerian oil purported deal because government did not procure nor was any money paid to the Nigerian government for the deal.
Charles Mulenga, acting director at the Ministry of Energy and Water Development yesterday shocked the Lusaka Magistrate Court when he testified that he did not know of any deal between the Zambian government and the Republic of Nigeria involving the importation of crude oil.
Mulenga also shocked the Magistrate court when he testified that he was summoned by the Government Joint Investigative Team (GJIT) for questioning over the oil deal more than two years after the case against president Banda had been on the stand in the same case.
Mulenga said he was not aware that the Zambian government had purchased and paid for the said oil from the Nigerian government adding he was not even aware that the Zambian government had lost money in the said deal.
Mulenga was testifying in a matter in which former President Rupiah Banda, 75, of 3 Plot 2759 off Leopards Hill Road in Lusaka is charged with one count of abuse of authority of office.
President Banda is alleged to have procured a US$2.5 million Nigerian government-to-government oil contract in the name of the Republic of Zambia which former president is alleging was meant to benefit himself and his family.
Mulenga testified that he was not aware of any contract between the Zambian government and SARB, a Nigerian oil company and that he was not aware whether there was any transaction took place between president Banda and the Nigerian oil company.
In cross examination, Mulenga testified: “I am not aware that Zambia purchased crude oil from Nigeria. I am not aware that any money was budgeted for by the government to procure crude oil from the Nigerian government. My Lord, I do not know of any deal of oil involving president Banda or the Zambian government with the republic of Nigeria. In fact I am not aware that there is a committee at the Ministry of Energy specifically dealing with issues of oil,” Mulenga who is acting director at the Ministry of Energy testified much to the shock of the prosecution team.
Mulenga becomes one a number of witnesses to have testified against the State with the first having been a Nigerian tycoon Akpan Ekpene who had admitted that former president Banda had no hand whatsoever in the oil deal and did not solicit for any money from the Nigerian government.
Ekpene testified that his company had since entered into negotiations with the Patriotic Front (PF) government which in his last testimony said the oil deal had been taken over by the current government.
And another state witness, Friday Tembo who is the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Senior investigations officer said there was no deal signed between the Zambian government and the republic of Nigeria.
Tembo said the said oil purported to have been purchased from Nigeria never arrived in Zambia and that there were no proceeds received by government if the said oil was ever sold.
But Tembo testified that although he was aware that there was no oil that came into Zambia, he was of the belief that president Banda had committed an offence of abuse of office when he allegedly involved his son Henry in the deal. The matter has been adjourned to Tuesday next week.