LAWYERS representing former President Rupiah Banda in a case in which he is charged with abuse of authority of office concerning a government-to-government oil deal have asked the court to stop the The Post’s continued publication of articles allegedly meant to injure his reputation.
Chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda has advised Banda’s lawyers to make a formal application and start contempt proceedings against the tabloid.
Defence lawyer Patrick Mvunga said The Post has allegedly imported Nigeria’s Civil Society Network Against Corruption chairperson Olanrewaju Suraju, from whom they are getting comments about Banda’s oil case.
Prof Mvunga said this when the matter came up for mention yesterday.
“The Post has imported a Nigerian named Suraju, from whom they are getting statements and we want the law to be applied.
We do not want self-styled courts and if the newspaper does not want to stop or respect the court, they should be barred, stopped and be kept at Bwinjimfumu Road,” he said.
Prof Mvunga said Banda is a former head of State and entitled to the due process of the law.
He said the defence cannot be hearing of perceived judgments on Banda’s case in newspapers and before the court process is exhausted.
This is in a matter in which Banda is charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to the law.
But Magistrate Banda said in his ruling that if Banda feels strongly hurt and injured, he should make an application to commence contempt proceedings.
“I take professor’s statement as an observation and not an application. As I have stated before, the court will not be influenced by what is written in the media but what is said in court,” Mr Banda said.
He adjourned the case to June 26 for ruling on whether Banda should be found with a case to answer or not.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba and The Post owner Fred M’membe have maintained that their contempt of court and libel case be sent to the High Court for determination of constitutional issues.
Defence lawyer Nchima Nchito said when the matter came up for hearing yesterday that the case should be referred to the High Court because the conditions on which the application was made are very clear and infringe on the constitutional rights of Kabimba and M’membe.
This is a case in which Kabimba, M’membe and The Post have been charged with contempt of court and libel.
Former president Rupiah Banda has asked the Lusaka Magistrate Court to cite Kabimba, M’membe and The Post for contempt of court for commenting on matters that are before the courts of law.
“The question this court should determine is whether this application is frivolous and vexatious,” Mr Nchito said.
He said the court’s decision to refuse the application for an adjournment on Monday has denied the accused persons time to prepare adequately.
On Monday, Mr Nchito applied for an adjournment to allow the defence to secure documents from other courts on which they can base their cross-examination of prosecution witness Newton N’guni.
He said the defence wanted to secure documents in cases in which suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito appeared before three different courts over his alleged abuse of authority of office.
But Mr Banda’s lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, said no-one is stopping the defence from accessing the documents.
Mr Sikota said the adjournment of the case should give the defence enough time to secure the documents and prepare adequately for the matter.
Principal resident magistrate Kenneth Mulife adjourned the matter to May 5, 2015 for continued hearing.