Court tosses out ACC restriction order on Baobab land

A Lusaka High Court has reversed a restriction order imposed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the land in Makeni owned by Bantu Capital Corporation Zambia Limited.

The vast piece of land is commonly referred to as Baobab land and is owned by Mohamed Abdelfattah Abdelmguid Salama and others through their company Bantu.

On Jan 27, 2012, the ACC placed a restriction order on the land to prohibit any activity on it by its owners. ACC said it was investigating possible corruption in the way the land was acquired.

The initial restriction was for nine months as required by law but when the nine months expired, ACC imposed another restriction for a further six months on November 20, 2012.

Bantu corporation through their lawyer Sakwiba Sikota went to court.

Bantu Corporation challenged the restriction order on grounds that the ACC was not investigating anything but just abusing its powers and harassing the owners of the land.

In response, the ACC lawyers said the ACC has powers to place such orders and argued that the restriction was imposed to carry out investigations that had by then reached advanced stages.

Judge Chalwe Muchenga ruled that even if the ACC has powers to impose such restrictions, the court also has powers to determine whether such a restriction has merit.

He said in this particular case, the ACC failed to tell the court the nature of the investigations being conducted but only said ‘have reached an advanced stage.’

Judge Mchenga said based on information in court, there was no basis on which the restriction was based and there reversed it.

According to court documents, Bantu corporation paid ZMK14 Billion (Kr14 Million) for 475 ACRES / 192 hectares Farm 4300/B Baobab Land.

Bantu plans to transform Baobab land into a modern residential area accommodating more than 2,000 housing units, a shopping mall, police station etc…

But latest information received by the Watchdog indicates the ACC will contest the High Court decision in the Supreme Court.

 

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