Witness breaks down in court

SARB Energy Managing Director Akpan Ekpene, a star state witness in the Rupiah Banda oil deal case yesterday shocked a Lusaka   Magistrate Court room when he broke down during cross examination.

Mr. Ekpene told the court in a case in which Former President Rupiah Banda is charged with abuse of authority wept during testimony describing Mr Banda as a man of great honour.

Mr Ekpene between sobs told Senior Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda that he held the former Head of State in high esteem because Mr. Banda believed in him.

Mr. Ekpene told the court that he wished that Mr. Banda had won the 2011 general elections to avert what the duo is now facing.

Mr Ekpene contradicted governments’ assertion that US$2.5 million was lost in the oil deal between Nigeria and the Zambian government.

Mr Ekpene said that there was no money paid to the Nigerian government or the National Nigerian Petroleum Company (NNCP) in the government to government oil deal as claimed by the Zambian government.

“This is what I want to clarify. Zambia did not pay any cent to the Nigerian Oil Company; neither did they pay to the Nigerian government. The money in question was not money from the Zambian government it was our money,” he said during cross examination by Professor Patrick Mvunga.

Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba told parliament during the removal of former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity that the, “The Government Joint Investigations Team (GJIT) had established that the Zambian government paid the sum of US$2.5 million to the Nigerian company for the crude oil facility through the Zambian government’s Nigerian Procurement Agent called SARB Energy Ltd.”

“I was not happy about the USS$ 2.5 million published on online newspapers. I wanted to confirm that we did not receive money from the Government of the Republic of Zambia, we brought a very clean business and we took a red tape as a sacrifice,” he said.

Mr. Ekpene further told court that he met the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito   in Nigeria where he led a team of investigators into the matter.

Mr. Akpene said that the Zambian government did not pay or spend any cent in the oil contract and government did not lose anything.

He insisted that the Zambian government did not lose out on the US$2.5 million as reported in the media because there were no payments towards the contract which was later canceled by the PF government.

He said that his company only lifted oil when the Patriotic Front (PF) formed government and President Banda had left power.

Mr. Ekpene said that the contract was later terminated and that as it stood now there was no oil contract between Zambia and Nigeria and no one has lost or benefited from the deal.

He said that he was unhappy about the way some newspapers were writing about the issues of the US$2.5 million and felt t it was his responsibility to set the record straight.

 Mr Ekpene reiterated that his company did not receive any money from the Zambian government in the whole procurement process of the oil.