‘No State funds in Nigerian oil deal’

THE Zambian Government did not lose any money in the purported Nigerian oil contract under which former president Rupiah Banda was dragged to court.

A witness, Friday Tembo, a senior investigations officer in the Anti-Corruption Commission said the Zambian Government did not make any payment whatsoever towards the oil deal.

He added that the US$500, 000 paid to Exora, a company purported to be owned by Mr Banda’s son, Henry, came from Sarb Energy Company in Nigeria.

Mr Tembo made the revelation when he was being cross-exmained by Mr Banda’s lawyers who included Sakwiba Sikota, Professor Patrick Mvunga, Makebi Zulu, Lubinda Linyama and Irene Kunda before Lusaka magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday.

This is in a matter where former president Banda, 76, of plot number 2758, off Leopards Hill Road, Lusaka is facing abuse of authority of office charges in relation to the alleged illegal procurement of oil from Nigeria to the tune of US$2.5 million, whose proceeds allegedly went into an offshore account.

Mr Tembo said the Zambian Government was not supposed to contribute any money towards the US$500, 000 paid to Exora.

Mr Tembo said Nigerian Sarb Enegry managing director Akpan Ekpene had interest in the oil deal between Zambia and Nigeria and that his company benefited from the swift transmission.

“Zambia never benefitted from the deal and lost an opportunity to benefit because of somebody. Through swift transmission Sarb Energy might have benefited,” he said.

He said the Zambian Government was supposed to benefit from the oil deal although he did not say by how much the country was supposed to benefit.

“I don’t have the value of what the Zambian Government was supposed to benefit, I have seen the documents where the amount was written but I can’t remember, it has been a while.  Without the document, I will say no, I don’t know the amount,” he said.

When told that he and Mr Ekpene have differed in evidence in court, Mr Tembo said it was up to the court to make its own judgment as he had contacted all potential witnesses who included Mr Ekpene, as well as  former deputy ambassador to Nigerian Richard Kachingwe.

Mr Tembo said he did not go to the banks in Nigeria and Singapore to verify certain documents and information because he had spoken to Mr Ekpene and others whom he believed to be credible witnesses.

He said Mr Banda’s case was linked to other cases which included money laundering and transfer of money from Exora in Singapore to Japan for purchase of motor vehicles which were delivered to Zambia. On the directors and shareholders of Exora, Mr Tembo said some of them were foreigners whose names he was unable to remember.

But he maintained that Mr Banda instructed Henry to determine the destination of the proceeds from the sale of oil. Mr Tembo said at first Sarb Energy had difficulties to issue the money but Henry made fictitious documents in the form of a contract with Sarb Energy to enable the company to make payment to Exora.

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