by Rachel Ogbu
Law enforcement agents have arrested the ex-president of Zambia, Rupiah Banda for corruption and abuse of office, following a crude oil import deal with Nigeria, reports claim.
On Monday, online news agency reported that Banda had allegedly stolen about $11m during his three-year reign as President.
According to reports, Banda denied the allegations, with his lawyers claiming the detention was an attempt by current President Michael Sata to silence him. He addressed his supporters after his release, urging them to remain calm and reassured them that he would win his case in court.
Banda also faces charges of procuring oil which did not benefit the country. It was reported that his crimes also included importing crude oil from Nigeria without actual deliveries, despite the fact that the funds were deposited into the bank account of his son.
A court case has been scheduled for Tuesday, and Banga has been released pending his appearance in court. He said the allegations were politically motivated.
The Punch reports:
He was questioned for close to three hours after his arrest related to the oil deal Monday before he was released on bail.
Earlier this month, parliament lifted Banda’s presidential immunity, clearing the way for him to be prosecuted for several corruption and abuse of office charges.
Banda lost to President Michael Sata in 2011 elections. The new government has been pursuing the corruption investigations against the former leader and his political allies.
Banda, born 13 February 1937, was President of Zambia from 2008 to 2011.
During the Presidency of Kenneth Kaunda, Banda held important diplomatic posts and was active in politics as a member of the United National Independence Party. Years later, he was appointed as Vice-President by President Levy Mwanawasa in October 2006, following the latter’s re-election.
He took over Mwanawasa’s presidential responsibilities after Mwanawasa suffered a stroke in June 2008, and following Mwanawasa’s death in August 2008, he became acting President. As the candidate of the governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy, he narrowly won the October 2008 presidential election, according to official results.
Opposition leader Michael Sata defeated Banda in the September 2011 presidential election, and Sata accordingly succeeded Banda as President on September 23, 2011.