Judgment Day for DPP Nchito

DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito who has been insisting on prosecuting former President Rupiah Banda in the nigerian oil matter will today know whether he can continue handling the case.

The Lusaka High Court is today expected to rule on whether Mr Nchito could proceed with his prosecution of Mr Banda.

Former President Rupiah Banda has challenged Nchito who he said was seriously conflicted.

Banda filed a notice to raise preliminary issues for constitutional reference to the High Court before Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda in the Lusaka Magistrate Courts.

In his notice, Banda wanted the High Court to determine whether Mr Nchito should continue to prosecute him when he had told the select committee of the National Assembly before his ratification as DPP that he would not personally prosecute matters concerning the former Head of State because of personal conflicts.

Banda has argued that in accordance with the law, for any person charged with a criminal offence, unless the charge is withdrawn the case is afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court.

The former Head of State has alleged that had been a subject of a vilification campaign.

CRM Banda referred the case to the High Court for constitutional reference on whether Mr Nchito should recuse himself or not because the lower courts had no powers to determine Mr Banda’s application which was bordering on conflicting issues.

But Mr Nchito in his reply said he could not recuse himself from prosecuting Mr Banda based on ground that he would be biased against Banda.

The State has contended that the Nigerian oil deal case was not the only one being prosecuted by Mr Nchito adding that the defence should have made an application before the matter had commenced.

Mr Nchito contended that it was too late for the former head of state to seek constitutional determination in the High Court whose proceedings had already commenced in the lower court with one witness remaining on stand.

He said the office of the DPP was constituted by the republican constitution to oversee prosecution activities in the country.

The state argued that it was amazing that the defence had suddenly realized that President Banda could be prejudiced by the alleged biasness of Mr Nchito.

The state added that there was nothing in the conduct of the DPP so far in his prosecution that could not render the court to be impartial in its proceedings.

Mr Banda allegedly procured a government to government oil contract in the name of the Republic of Zambia in which he allegedly benefited together with his family.

He is also accused of instructing his son Henry Banda to determine the destination of the proceeds to the contract, an instruction from which the Republic of Zambia did not receive any benefit.