Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rupiah didn't want Nigerian oil deal to be known to many people - Kachingwe
By Mwala Kalaluka
Fri 12 July 2013, 14:01 CAT

MAJOR Richard Kachingwe yesterday testified that he exclusively managed the Nigerian oil deal on behalf of Rupiah Banda, who had a lot of interest in the transaction.

And Lusaka chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday warned members of the public that attend the former president's trial that he would flush them out from his court if they perceived it as a circus.

Maj Kachingwe said it would be dishonourable for Banda to deny giving him letters on State House letterheads to deliver to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

This is a matter where Banda, 76 of plot number 2758, off Leopards Hill Road, Lusaka is facing abuse of authority of office charges in relation to the alleged illegal procurement of oil from Nigeria to the tune of US$2.5 million, whose proceeds were alleged to have gone into an offshore account.

During cross-examination by Banda's defence team, Maj Kachingwe said Banda did not, however, want the Nigerian oil deal to be known to many people.

Responding to questions from defence lawyer Stephen Lungu, Maj Kachingwe said he consistently kept Banda informed about the dealings with Sub-Energy over the government-to-government Nigerian oil deal.

He said he was not aware that the Nigerian company Sub-Energy did not exist as of August 2008 but that when two company officials came to Zambia, he took them to meet Banda at Government House after receiving them at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport as guests of the president.

"This is a president. Surely the president can't deny that he gave me these letters. He is a man of honour," Maj Kachingwe said.

He said he read the letter that was given to then energy minister Kenneth Konga to deliver to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC relating to the delivery of 45,000 barrels of oil.

Maj Kachingwe said Konga also left a power of attorney that was prepared in a hotel business centre in Abuja, which allowed Sub-Energy to deal on behalf of Zambia on the oil deal.

Responding further to another defence lawyer, Lubinda Linyama, Maj Kachingwe said he signed the contract on the Nigerian oil deal on behalf of the Zambian government at the NNPC offices in Abuja and that it was witnessed by Sub-Energy managing director Akpan Ekpene and others.

"I was directed to sign," he said. Maj Kachingwe said he could vouch on the emailed remittance advice relating to the Nigerian oil issue which he sent to Banda.

"Do you know whether this money went?" Linyama asked as Maj Kachingwe replied: "I don't know. It is not my account. The president acknowledged."

Asked about who the beneficiary was according to the document, he said Banda or his son Henry would know better.

But he said Rupiah Bwezani Banda or Henry Chikomeni Banda's names do not appear on the document in question.

"It also shows the crookedness of Henry Banda. There is an offshore account," Maj Kachingwe said.

When probed if he had consulted the Attorney General when signing the contract at NNPC, Maj Kachingwe said he had consulted Banda.

"The president is the Attorney General," he said. "It was not me to consult. It was the president to consult. The president gave me delegated power…I have no difficulty in saying I was given powers by the president of the Republic of Zambia…Everything I was handing over to the president."

Maj Kachingwe said it was Banda who initiated the whole process.

"The president had a lot of interest in the deal," he said. "These were instructions from the president."

Maj Kachingwe said in response to questions from defence lawyer Makebi Zulu that he sat and discussed with Banda, and Banda told him they required another power of attorney after a second opportunity availed itself in relation to the Nigerian oil deal.

"That is why I am saying this is a presidential trial. I am being constrained," he said. "These are the questions you can direct to the president because he knows all these things."

He said Banda was very happy to meet with the officials from Sub-Energy such that apart from donating materials towards his presidential election campaign, he made sure that Maj Kachingwe was excluded from the second meeting with the duo.

"He handed over to Henry," he said.

On defence lawyer Sakwiba Sikota's attempt to test his character through an incident where he was accused of having caused diplomatic furore with Sweden in 2004 when he assisted a Burundese national to access a visa under the guise of an MMD cadre, Maj Kachingwe said it was sad that when someone was drowning they were even holding on to the branches to survive.

Hearing continues.

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