FORMER Chief of Staff for former president Rupiah Banda has today testified in court that he edited a letter which was a request for 45 thousand barrels of crude oil and purchase of solid minerals to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Umaru Musa Yaradua.
This is in the continued trial of former president Banda in the case in which he is charged with abuse of authority of office involving a Nigerian oil procurement deal.
Austin Sichinga 59 of house number 6 Ingwe road in woodlands Lusaka, has testified that during the time he was chief of staff at state house, he dealt with many letters that came from correspondence and some had to pass through his hands because the president could have been busy.
Sichinga told the court that it was during the same time that one day he was asked to see the president who he found with two people in his office.
He testified that it was at this stage that president Banda asked him to look at the draft of a letter and see if it was of state house standard and have it edited.Sichinga told the court that the letter was addressed to the then president of Nigeria Umaru Musa Yaradua, requesting for a possible concession to supply crude oil to Zambia, while offering Nigeria option of buying some mineral from Zambia.
But when shown a copy of the purported letter by Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito for identification, Sichinga told the court that the document he was shown was just similar to the one that he had edited.
Sichinga explained to the court that the document shown to him was not original and not on standard state house special paper adding that the one he had edited was not signed by the former president Rupiah Banda.
He further testified that the letter in question had a state house date stamp and was on a special paper which was yellow in colour.
He also testified that letter that he was shown by the investigations officer was the one which had a signature of the former president Rupiah Banda.
And when asked by DPP if he had ever heard of the Osigue brothers, he answered in the affirmative and told the court that he meet them when president Banda has gone to address the United Nations meeting.
He told the court that President Banda introduced them as Nigerian businessmen who had interest to invest in Zambia.
Trial in the matter has been adjourned to tomorrow for continued trial.