Former Zambia President Banda Charged Over Oil Deal With Nigeria

Zambia has charged former president Rupiah Banda for abuse of authority in connection with a Nigerian oil deal involving President Jonathan, a government spokeswoman said on Monday.
Mr Banda, who has been accused of misappropriating more than $11m during his three years in office, was arrested, formally charged and released on bail.

Spokeswoman Namukolo Kasumpa said he would appear in court again on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Zambia stripped Mr Banda of immunity from prosecution, and Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said at the time that the country was close to bringing charges against the former president.

Mr Banda, who led Africa’s top copper producer from 2008 to 2011, has maintained his innocence. He has said the charges are part of a witch-hunt by the government targeting anyone seen to have a view opposite to incumbent President Michael Sata.

The former president was questioned for about three hours after his arrest, his lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, said. "The charge is extremely vague and our only defence is the truth. He is innocent and the truth will be known."

Mr Banda later appeared before supporters, telling them to remain calm and that he would win his case in court.

Mr Banda was defeated in 2011 by his rival, Mr Sata, whose government has launched several high-profile corruption investigations into deals struck by the former administration.

Opposition leaders Nevers Mumba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development were recently also detained and questioned.

Analysts have warned that the perception that Zambia is growing intolerant is hurting the investment potential of one of the most promising economies in Southern Africa.

But the government says that its critics have no reason to worry, because it is pursuing a major campaign promise to tackle corruption and inject a tradition of accountability.

The government says it has not targeted opposition leaders on political grounds. "People in the opposition, such as Dr Mumba and Mr Hichilema, are being investigated on specific offences," a government spokesman said.

Mr Banda is the second Zambian leader to be stripped of his immunity and to be charged in court with corruption and abuse of office. Former president Frederick Chiluba was similarly treated after leaving office in 2001.

News Source: BDLive
Zambia 3725249225321261911

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