SUSPENDED Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito has threatened to boycott the tribunal investigating him on charges of corruption and abuse of power if former Chief Justices Mathew Ngulube and Ernest Sakala do not recuse themselves.
But tribunal chairman Justice Annell Silungwe has sternly warned him against ever drawing the tribunal into disrepute.
He admonished Nchito for accusing the inquiry of bias and allegedly curtailing him in his submissions.
Nchito said he could not be removed as DPP on the terms advanced by the State because, according to him, President Edgar Lungu did not think through the charges, but simply “cut and pasted” complaints by one Brebner Changala.
The charges, he said, were therefore not competent to merit his suspension and subsequent removal from office.
In conduct reminiscent of their now infamous walk out from Judge Nigel Mutuna’s court, Nchito yesterday gave notice that he was uncomfortable with the proceedings, the two judges because his previous brush with them and would therefore not participate any further if they were to remain on the tribunal. Nchito accused Justice Ngulube and Justice Sakala of being conflicted and therefore biased and not impartial.
He alleged that President Lungu ordered him to cease performing his functions as DPP without specifying the constitutional wrongs he committed to merit the setting up of the tribunal to investigate him.
He argued that after looking at the terms of references his complaint was that apart from Justices Ngulube and Sakala who were conflicted, he did not know what transgressions he had committed to warrant his removal from his office.
The founding of the tribunal, he said, was fatally flawed because, according to him, the terms of reference did not conform to the provisions of the Constitution and that the tribunal was struggling to fit the terms into the law.
“If I am going to be brought to this tribunal, I must be made to understand what I have done. The terms of reference are incompetent because the President with his advisors did not think through beyond the letter by a Mr Brebner Changala who had petitioned for the establishment of this tribunal. My Lord, in terms of ordinary rules of procedure in a matter such as this one, it would appear that before I take part in the proceedings, I am required to make known any jurisdiction of the tribunal.
I have had less than happy times with Justices Ngulube and Sakala who are the members of the tribunal. Unless they recuse themselves, I will not be participating in the proceedings until such a time as the ruling to my submission is made,” he said.
Mr Nchito said the Annel Silungwe tribunal had failed the test of fairness, independence and impartiality because Justices Ngulube and Sakala allegedly had their own interest to serve.
But Justice Silungwe cautioned Mr Nchito against making wild allegations against Justices Ngulube and Sakala and demanded that it was important for the suspended DPP to substantiate his allegations against the members of the tribunal.
“Mr Nchito, as you make your submissions, you should be able to state and demonstrate exactly how any member of this tribunal could be biased. It must not be a matter of simply making bare statements against the members. Assuming any member of the tribunal did or does anything, it is important to show how it would make that member biased,” Justice Silungwe said.
Mr Nchito accused Justice Ngulube of having been employed by Rajan Mahtani in legal consultancy but Justice Silungwe said even if the former Chief Justice had done so it would not have any bearing on the outcome of the tribunal.
Earlier, the State through Attorney General Likando Kalaluka told the tribunal that the amended terms of reference that were given to Mr Nchito had been abandoned and that the State was going to rely on the original terms to which Mr Nchito vehemently objected.
But Justice Silungwe was later informed that the State was going to rely on both the original and amended terms of reference except that two of the allegations relating to the forgery of documents and planting of drugs on a citizen had been dropped.
Mr Nchito however said a fundamental problem had arisen as he had two documents and did not know which one to rely on.
The tribunal proceedings have been adjourned to Tuesday next week.