THE Taskforce on Corruption has ignored the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to wait until he studies the judgment on the acquittal of former president, Frederick Chiluba before challenging the verdict in a higher court.
In a letter dated August 21, 2009, Task Force executive chairman Maxwell Nkole asked private prosecutors, MNB Legal Practitioners to prepare and file the grounds of appeal to a higher court when the DPP had written that the process awaits a study of the judgment, which had not yet been finalised.
“Although we have not yet obtained a copy of the judgment to study the reasons given for the acquittal, we however, believe that there are good grounds of appeal, and you are in a position to understand the judgment much better and file the appeal.
“We request that you prepare and file grounds of appeal immediately so that a higher court can review the totality of evidence adduced against Dr Chiluba and give us further guidance,” Mr Nkole said
Mr Nkole said in the letter copied to the DPP, President Rupiah Banda and the attorney general that the acquittal of Dr Chiluba had raised concern from various sectors of society.
But DPP Chalwe Mchenga said in a letter also dated August 21, 2009, that he would only be able to decide whether the State should appeal after studying the judgment.
“My position is that before any appeal is lodged, a copy of the judgment must be obtained and submitted to my office for scrutiny. After reading the judgment , I will be in a position to indicate whether an appeal should be lodged or not,” Mr Mchenga said.
But Mr Nkole went ahead and instructed that an appeal should be lodged.
Task Force prosecutor, Mutembo Nchito said in an interview in Lusaka that following the instructions from Mr Nkole, he prepared and filed the grounds of appeal yesterday in the Lusaka magistrate’s court criminal registry.
“We have filed the notice of appeal stating the grounds of appeal,” Mr Nchito said.
In an unsigned copy of the grounds of appeal provided by Mr Nchito, the prosecutors have given seven reasons why they feel that the trial magistrate erred when he failed to convict Dr Chiluba.
Dr Chiluba’s lawyer, Robert Simeza, however, expressed ignorance regarding the filing of the grounds of appeal, saying he had searched in all the criminal registries and found nothing.
The Committee of Citizens (CC) said yesterday that the Taskforce on Corruption does not have the right on any Government matter and there is no way it could appeal against the judgment in Dr Chiluba’s case.
CC executive director, Gregory Chifire said in a statement that according to article 56 (4) (5) (6) of the Republican Constitution, the Taskorce had no locus standi, or right, on any government matter.
Mr Chifire said that the Constitution mandated only the DPP to appeal to a superior court in any criminal case and therefore Mr Nkole could not discharge that duty.
“We are extremely disappointed with the manner Mr Nkole has continued to mislead the nation on this matter and do urge the Republican president to immediately relieve him of his duties before he embarrasses himself on matters of law.
“To begin with, the Taskforce on Corruption does not have a locus standi on any GRZ legal matters. According to article 56 (4)(5)(6), the Constitution mandates only the director of public prosecution with such matters,” he said.
He said claims by Mr Nkole that the Taskforce now wanted to pursue the Carlington maize saga and the arms deal should not be entertained as it was only meant to justify their existence.
“Mr Nkole should not use black mail in order to justify the existence of the Taskforce. Time has come for the Taskforce to be disbanded so that the already existing investigating and prosecuting wings of Government can be empowered to enhance their operations.
“These claims by Mr Nkole are driven by the huge allowances he and his colleagues in the Taskforce are getting and not by the desire for service to Zambia,” he said.
The Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) said that the due process of the law should be exhausted in the case of Dr Chiluba.
NGOCC board publicity secretary Juliet Chibuta said in Lusaka yesterday that it would be in the best interest of the nation to ensure that the case was brought to its logical conclusion.
TIMES OF ZAMBIA