Ng’uni sends his legal fees bill to State House

Lusaka High Court

NEWTON Ng’uni has forwarded his K2.8 million legal fees bill to State House in an apparent quest for help in paying the debt he owes Keith Mweemba and two other Lusaka lawyers whom he hired to prosecute Mutembo Nchito earlier this year.
Ng’uni, who is former finance deputy minister, dragged the Director of Public Prosecutions to court over various accusations of abuse of authority, among other allegations.
He then sought an arrest warrant against Mutembo on February 11, 2015, which Chongwe magistrate Moses Phiri issued, prompting police to effect an arrest on the DPP.
When The Post reported that those who were calling for Mutembo’s removal from his constitutional office were acting under State House instructions, Ng’uni denied being an agent of President Lungu or acting on his behalf, and State House issued a statement to assure the public that the Head of State acted in public interest to suspended the DPP because he was facing numerous accusations from members of the public.
“As far as I can remember, there were about seven petitions that the President received against the Director of Public Prosecutions and that prompted the Head of State to set up a three-member tribunal that is investigating the allegations,” said President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda after Mutembo had been suspended.
But according to a demand letter signed by Mweemba, which has been forwarded to State House for possible consideration, the lawyers, who include Gilbert Phiri and Makebi Zulu, want Ng’uni to pay them K2,807,200 for executing the instructions they had been given.
“We have a situation here because this man now wants State House to intervene and pay the lawyers. You can call the President’s legal advisor and ask him. If he is honest, he will tell you that he has this letter of demand from Keith [Mweemba] and his friends,” sources said.
“If you remember, this man refused that he was not working under instructions from the President, so why has he forwarded this demand to us and who is going to pay because I can tell you that there is no money to waste on that issue, which has now been taken over by the Attorney General and his team.”
And when contacted, Mweemba expressed ignorance about his demand letter being sent to State House.
“I am not aware about the letter being sent to State House. We wrote to our client [Ng’uni], so I don’t know about that,” said Mweemba.
In their demand letter, Mweemba and the two other lawyers reminded Ng’uni that they spent a lot of time researching, brainstorming and looking for possible witnesses to testify against Mutembo.
“Kindly find enclosed herewith by way of service our collective final bill in sum of ZMW 2, 807, 200.00 constituting both deposit and final payment for the three law firms. Kindly attend to settling the same within the next four working days, failure to which we shall institute civil proceedings in the High Court of the Judicature for Zambia to collect the same without reverting to you,” read the demand letter in part.
The lawyers stated that the bill could have been much more than what they were demanding.
“To our bill upon taking instructions to act for you to attendance upon the preparation of summons and complaint before the subordinate court; to several attendances before Hon Joshua Banda, Hon Kenneth Mulife, Hon Moses Phiri (Chongwe) and Hon Lameck Mwale, to several attendances at the High Court before Justices M.C Chitabo, SC and Gertrude Chawatama; to attendance upon legal research, to attendance upon brainstorming meetings and preparation of possible witnesses, to several attendances too numerous to itemise, our bill could have been more but just say add disbursements (petties, phones, meetings etc),” read part of the letter.
Following his arrest and detention, Mutembo was made to appear before Chongwe magistrate Phiri.
When the matter was called up, Mutembo’s lawyer, Nchima Nchito, wondered why there were no public prosecutors to prosecute the DPP.
“First of all, your worship, I would like to know why there are no public prosecutors in this court to prosecute this matter. I would also like to know who appointed my colleagues (Ng’uni’s lawyers) to prosecute this matter because that permission should have come from the DPP,” Nchito said.
But Ng’uni’s lawyers, Mweemba, Zulu and Phiri claimed that they had been appointed by the complainant to prosecute the matter on his behalf.
The trio argued that the complainant had the right to appoint private prosecutors to prosecute on his behalf and asked the court to proceed and hear the matter.
But later, magistrate Phiri said he could not hear the matter because there was a High Court order that declared the proceedings null and void because he had acted in a matter that was outside his jurisdiction.
After Mutembo’s tribunal commenced proceedings, the three lawyers were dropped from the case, and Attorney General Likando Kalaluka and other public prosecutors took over the matter.