Witness fails to identify letter in RB case

A photocopy of a letter purported to have been written by former president Rupiah Banda to his Nigerian counterpart, late Umaru Musa Yaradua, requesting to buy oil could not be identified by a prosecution witness in the continued trial of the former head of state.

Former chief of Staff at State House Mr Austin Sichinga told the Lusaka Magistrates Court yesterday that the document shown to him by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito was similar to the one the former president had asked him to edit.

Mr Sichinga told the court that, apart from that, the letter Mr Nchito had  shown him was not an original and not on standard State House special paper.

He further told the court that the letter which he edited was not signed by the former president Rupiah Banda.

President Banda is alleged on dates unknown but between May 1,2008 and September 24, 2011 did abuse his authority by procuring a Nigerian government to government oil deal to benefit him and his family.

He is alleged to have asked President Yaradua for 45,000 barrels of oil per day and that the Zambian government actually paid US$2.5 million to the Nigerian oil supplier.

Mr Sichinga,59, of house number 6 Ingwe Road, Woodlands, Lusaka, further told the court that the document in question had a State House date stamp and was on a special yellow paper.

He however said the letter shown to him by the investigations officer had Mr Banda’s signature.

“I edited a letter which was a request for 45,000 barrels of crude oil and purchase of solid minerals to  president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Umaru Musa Yaradua,” he said

He also told Chief Resident Magistrate Mr Joshua Banda who is hearing the case, that when he was working at State House, he dealt with so many letters and that some of them passed through his hands because sometimes the president could be busy with other national duties.

When asked by Mr Mutembo Nchito by if he had ever heard of the Osigue brothers, Mr Sichinga said he did because he had met them when president Banda went to address the United Nations. He said President Banda introduced them as Nigerian businessmen who wanted to invest in Zambia.

Trial continues today