Zambia’s former High Commissioner to Nigeria Alexis Luhila today was called as the second witness in the state’s case against former President Rupiah Banda, who is charged with abuse of office of authority regarding an oil procurement transaction with a Nigerian company.
Mr. Luhila 62, a businessman of house number 406 Kudu road Kabulonga, Lusaka served as Zambia’s envoy to the Federal Republic of Nigeria from August 2009 to December 31, 2011 and is prosecution witness number two, PW2. At exactly 10:28 Mr. Luhila took to the witness stand and swore to tell the court the truth. In his evidence-in-chief he told Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda how he got concerned about a special envoy that kept sneaking in and out of his Abuja mission without his knowledge.
The prosecution of Banda is being led by the Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, who has come under fire in recent months with regard to the manipulation of unpaid loans to the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).
He particularly told the court about some experience with a special envoy he later came to know as Major Richard Kachingwe who was also at the time Zambia’s ambassador to Malawi. “During the course of my duty I had briefings from my staff that there is a special envoy who comes in and out of my station. I got concerned and worried about my status”, he told the court.
Late last year, Maj. Kachingwe was featured in newspaper headlines as he was ejected from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) after he attempted to annul the party presidency of Dr. Nevers Mumba. Since that incident, Maj. Kachingwe has been seen as a pawn of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), and, according to opposition supporters, will likely be used in the government’s “politically motivated case” against former President Banda.
Mr. Luhila also narrated to the how he one time chased some people claiming to have been friends of former President Banda from his office. The said people were taken to his office by Ms Margaret Kaemba who was the person in charge of economic affairs at the Zambia High Commission in Abuja. “She told me that there were these two guests and these are friends of the president and it’s important you meet them in your office. I asked her to bring them in the office”, Mr. Luhila told magistrate Banda as he gave evidence prompted by questions from the DPP.
He added, “They began telling me their story that they are friends of the president and that they know there was a special envoy Maj. Kachingwe in town. They also told me that they are also aware I accompanied this envoy to the Nigerian National Oil Petroleum Company. They told me they were not happy that they were being left out of this deal”, he said. “When I heard them mentioning that they know they was a special envoy whom I accompanied to Lagos and mentioning the president, I decided to chase them from my office,” Mr. Luhila added.
Earlier Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda refused to admit a copy of a letter by PW1 Zambia Police Service detective inspector Derrick Kasonka as part of his evidence as the witness failed to satisfy the court on the need to admit secondary evidence. The letter was aleegedly authored by Mr. Rupiah Banda when he was president of Zambia.
The matter has been adjourned to Wednesday April 24, 2013 for continued trial at which point PW2 Luhila will be cross-examined by the defence.