FORMER Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says there were some spirited attempts to interfere with the course of justice in a case in which he was charged with corrupt practices.
Chanda said this after the Director of Public Prosecutions entered a nolle prosequi in a matter where he was jointly-charged with former Intelligent Mobility Solutions (IMS) Limited board chairman Walid El Nahas and former Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) chief executive officer Zindaba Soko with corrupt practices.
Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale discontinued proceedings against the three and discharged them in light of the nolle.
In this matter, Nahas was charged with two counts of corrupt practices with a public officer, whereas Soko and Chanda were charged with four counts of corrupt practices by a public officer and possession of property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
It was alleged in count one that Nahas between August 1, 2017, and May 31, 2019, corruptly gave US $10,000 to Soko, a public officer, namely director and chief executive officer of the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), as an inducement or reward in order to facilitate the award of a contract to IMS by RTSA for the provision of advanced road safety solutions and services, a matter or transaction that concerns RTSA, a public body.
In count two, it was alleged that Nahas on the same dates corruptly gave US $11,000 to Chanda, a public officer, namely Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, as an inducement or reward in order to facilitate the award of a contract to IMS by RTSA for the provision of advanced road safety solutions and services.
In count three, it was alleged that between August 1, 2017, and May 31, Soko corruptly received US $10,000 from Nahas as inducement to facilitate the award of the IMS contract by RTSA.
It was alleged in the fourth count that Soko on the same dates possessed US $10,000, property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
In count five, Chanda was accused of corruptly receiving US $11,000 from Nahas as an inducement to facilitate the award of the contract to IMS by RTSA for the provision of advanced road safety solutions and services.
It was further alleged in count six that Chanda on August 1, 2017, and May 31, 2019, possessed US $11,000, suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The trio had denied the charges and trial had begun.
However, when the matter came up for continued trial yesterday, the State informed the Court that it had received instructions to discontinue the case against all three accused persons.
“The matter was scheduled for continuation of trial. However, the Court is informed that the State has discontinued the matter against the three accused persons through a nolle prosequi,” State prosecutor Sipholiano Phiri said.
Magistrate Mwale then discharged accused the accused persons in light of the nolle.
“In light of the nolle prosequi entered by the office of the DPP, proceedings against the accused persons are, hereby, discontinued and the accused are accordingly discharged,” Magistrate Mwale ruled.
And speaking to journalists after walking free, Chanda expressed relief, saying that the nolle had restored him to his previous position of innocence.
“The prosecution brought a case against me. They brought a criminal allegation, which they have withdrawn and therefore, restored me to the original position as it were; the presumption of innocence as provided for in the Constitution,” Chanda said.
“It doesn’t matter whether the accused is Amos Chanda or not, the presumption of innocence is available to everyone. I have been in this court every single day when the matter has been called and there has been no witness that has fingered me. So, I have been restored to the position that I was, innocent.”
Asked if the charges against them were trumped up, Chanda said that could be answered by those who brought the charges against them.
Chanda, who said he was still confident in the justice system, however, expressed concern with attempts by certain stakeholders to interfere with the course of justice against him.
“That’s a question that can be answered by those who brought the charges. As for me, my faith in the justice system is still as strong as it was before I was arrested. But regrettably, in my case, I can tell you that some spirited attempts to interfere with the course of justice against me did occur. But that all is now in the past. I don’t want that ugly stain to crowd what may lie ahead of me in the future. I believe that our court system can still be trusted to arrive at a decision, innocence or guilty, depending on the evidence that has been produced,” he replied.
And Chanda said a possible re-arrest did not bother him as the court system would preside over that.
“I have been here every single day. So, if that re-arrest is done, I will be here. That does not violate the innocence. If they go again and re-arrest me, the court system will preside over that. So, from November up to now, there should be sufficient time to decide whether evidence exists or it does not. So, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t bother me if that were to happen,” he said.
Chanda also thanked his family, friends and the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) for supporting him.
“I will be acting unfairly if I did not thank my dear wife, Mable [and] my three wonderful children. They have been a pillar of support during this entire period that I have been before the Court. I want to thank my lawyers, those friends who stood by me, His Royal Highness Mwine-Lubemba Chitimukulu and the United Church of Zambia for their support,” said Chanda.