Nchito’s fate delayed

The Lusaka Magistrates Court yesterday adjourned the ruling on whether Director of Public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito could proceed with his prosecution of former President Rupiah Banda.

The case was adjourned due to the absence of the trial Magistrate, Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda.

The ruling has now been set for August 26, 2014.

In this case, Banda,75, of house No.3 Plot 2759 off Leopards Hill Road, Kabulonga is charged with one count of abuse of authority of office relating to an alleged oil transaction valued at US 2.5 million.

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

In his notice, Banda wants 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Banda has argued that in accordance with the law, for any person charged with a criminal offence, unless the charge is withdrawn the case is afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court.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 he had been a subject of a vilification campaign.

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 matter was not the only one being prosecuted by Mr Nchito adding that the defence should have made an application before the matter commenced.

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