Rupiah Banda asked Nigeria to supply oil, testifies his ex-Chief of Staff at State House

Head of Staff at State House during former president Rupiah Banda, Austin Schinga has told a Lusaka Magistrate Court that the former president wrote to Nigerian President asking for the supply of crud oil and trade with Zambia in minerals.

This is in case where Banda is being tried over allegations of abuse of authority of office in the procurement of petroleum from Nigeria

Testifying as a State witness today, April 24, 2013 in the ongoing trial of Zambia’s former president Banda, Schinga disclosed that he did edit the letter authored¬† by the president to his Nigerian counterpart. He said in his testimony lead by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito that the letter dated November 25, 2008 seek for the supply of 45, 000 barrels per day.

The former president according to Schinga also proposed that Nigeria trade with Zambia in solid minerals. He however stated that he never saw the president signing the letter and only saw the signed letter at the Joint State Investigations Team when he was summoned there.

Schinga said he was able to identify the letter because of a certain format and style of letters authored by State House and president Banda which he was familiar with. He said the letter always has State House seal adding that each president had his own style of writing. He explained that in the case of president Banda, he addressed his colleague as Dear love and president.

He also told the court that following another letter of dated May 22, 2009 by president Banda he could tell that the letter was delivered by the president himself. He said the letter was a follow up on the earlier letter and Banda stated that he had delivered the letter in Nigeria on November 27, 2009.

Schinga who said among some of his duties was to maintain the president’s correspondence said on two occasions he was invited to meet three Nigerian business men with one Zambia. He said the first time was at State House when he gave him the letter to edit and the other time was in New York during the United Nations Summit. He said during a short meeting in New York the president said the Nigerian businessmen were interested in investing in Zambia.

When asked to describe the nature of the transaction by the DPP, Schinga said it was public.

Earlier, one of the defense lawyers, Lubinda Linyama objected twice to the State asking the witness to asking the witness to identify the letter. But Nchito responded saying he wanted the witness to describe the letter.

When asked to cross examine the witness, the defense team lead by Prof. Patrick Mvunga asked for adjournment to tomorrow. Banda who sat in a dock looked calm.

Other members in Banda’s defence team comprises of Zambia’s eminent lawyers that include Sakwibe Sikota, Ireen Kunda, former Law Association of Zambia president Stephen Lungu, former Minister at State House Eric Silwamba.

Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda adjourned the matter to tomorrow for continued trial. Two witnesses have since testified these are former High Commissioner to Nigeria at that time and an Investigating Police Officer.

In his usual jovial moody, Banda waved his supporters as he left the court.