RB trial shocker

The second letter produced in evidence led by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito in the continued trial of former republican President Rupiah Banda was yesterday discribed as a forgery.

Former Chief of Staff at State House Austin Sichinga told Chief Resident Magistrate Mr Joshua Banda that the letter showed to him could not have come from State House because it had an incorrect logo as well as wrong paper and font.

He also denied having seen the former president sign the letters in question

He said it was not in President Rupiah Banda’s style to sign letters in public for he would take time to read the letter before signing it.

Asked just in case some one whom he did not know could have stamped it, Dr. Sichinga said even then the person who stamped the letter should have put his initials and could have got in touch with him.

“Yes, there is a stamp showing the signature of the former head of state on each one of the two letters but there are no initials to show the person who could have stamped the letter on behalf of the president.

Asked why there was need for those initials, Dr Sichinga said it was important to trace

the person who signed the document.

During cross-examination by Rupiah Banda’s lawyers, Dr. Sichinga said, as Chief of Staff, it was, among his many duties,  to ensure that there was  a standard in the letters sent to other Heads of State. He said the letter presented before court as evidence did not  contain the presidential threshold because it had so many errors and disparities.

He told the court:”I was also in charge of putting together the system the former head of state was to use. I was also familiar with the stationery that was used in the office of the president and I am not aware of any changes  done, not to my knowledge” he said.

Dr. Sichinga further  told the court that all formal correspondence by the president was done on a similar type of paper including the logo and font.

When asked to explain the differences between the two letters alleged to have been sent to president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Sichinga said the letters in question could not have passed through his office.

Dr. Sichinga who identified the variations on the two coat of arms, letters typed on two different font, styles and typing errors including the spelling of the name of the President of Nigeria said it was evident that the letters did not meet the required standards. He said in one letter, the wording was in mixed cases and fonts while the other letter was typed in a combination  of lower and upper cases including italicized.

“I definitely did not sanction the changes in the stationery in these letters nor did I allow the letter to go with these variations.  “One of my duties is to ensure there is standard in the correspondence made by the head of state. My concern was in both style and content. If anyone of them was found wanting in style and content then it was my duty to amend it,” he said

He said when he drafted the first to letter to Nigerian head of state, he was satisfied in content and style otherwise he could not have let it go.

Another State witness Margaret Kayemba, 62, businesswoman told the court that she introduced the Osigwe brothers to the High Commissioner Alex Luhila. She said she met the Osigwe brothers in March 2010 when they went to complain that why the Zambian government had sidelined them for Nigerian National Petroleum Company. She said one brother had gone to her office to discuss the possibility of Zambia purchasing oil directly from the government of Nigeria.   “Thereafter, the brothers also came to complain that  the President was refusing to pick their calls so they could speak to

him over the Government to Government arrangement of crude oil  that was approved. It was then that I informed them that the mission had no information on that.

She was also informed that they had gone to get their commission for handling the oil agreement and to inform the mission that the deal was approved. “When I asked them if they did not have an agent who could direct them to the president, they gave me the name of a Mr. Mweenda who refused to help them.”