CHIPANGALI PF member of parliament Andrew Lubusha has petitioned the Lusaka High Court seeking a return of the properties and documents seized from him by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).
According to a petition filed in court, Friday, Lubusha stated that the Constitution was violated when the officers seized his properties and documents relating to his properties and businesses without lawful authority or his permission and infringed on his right to protection from deprivation of property as stated in Article 16 of the Constitution.
Lubusha explained that on August 23, 2021, persons who identified themselves as officers from the Commission did, without lawful authority; enter his residence at plot number 382a Ibex Hill, Lusaka.
He stated that despite being alerted about his absence, the officers secured the premises and caused two police officers to be stationed at the said residence.
Lubusha stated that the officers returned the following day and produced a search and seizure warrant that was pre-signed by the DEC director-general.
“On August 24, the officers returned to the residence of the petitioner where they, in the presence of the petitioner and his counsel purported to fill in what they purported to be a search and seizure warrant. The purported warrant filled in by the officers was not issued or signed by a magistrate. To the contrary, it was a pre-signed form which they alleged to have been issued and signed by the Director General of the DEC. The purported warrant was purported to be issued pursuant to sections 52 and 53 of the Narcotic Drugs and psychotropic substances Act No.35 of 2021, being provisions that purportedly give the DG of DEC power to issue a search and seizure warrant,” he stated.
Lubusha stated that the officers, being led by Kabwe Ngandwe proceeded to conduct a search at his residence for almost an entire day after which they seized his electronic devices which include; a Samsung phone, Huawei phone, HP laptop and a POS machine together with its charger, without lawful authority.
He further stated the officers also seized a consignment of documents from his house which included; Zambia Revenue Authority customs clearance forms, land registers, third party mortgages and white books for different vehicles.
Lubusha added that aside from the purported warrant, the officers merely produced notices of seizure whereon they indicated the documents and the property they had seized.
He noted that after the search and the seizure which lasted till the late hours of the day, the officers without cause, apprehended him, bundled him into their motor vehicle and drove him to their offices in Ridgeway area.
“The officers trespassed on the property when they gained entry into, remained on and conducted a search at the petitioner’s premises and seized the petitioner’s property without his permission, let alone lawful authority. Upon apprehending the petitioner, the officers insisted that the petitioner move in the DEC vehicle notwithstanding his advocates Makebi Zulu advocates had indicated that they would drive with him to the DEC offices,” said Lubusha.
Lubusha is therefore seeking a declaration that the director general of DEC has no authority to issue a search or seizure warrant.
He also wants a declaration that neither section 52 or 53 of the Act grants the director general power to issue a warrant, and that if the said sections allow the director general of DEC to issue a warrant, the said provision is ultra vires the constitution, therefore null and void to the extent of the inconsistency.
Lubusha is further seeking a declaration that the search and seizure of his property by DEC officers was ultra vires Articles 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18 of the Constitution, an order of certiorari quashing the warrants issued by the DG and an order of mandamus compelling the DEC to return all the documents and electronic gadgets that were seized from his premises.
He is further seeking damages for loss of use of property and documents seized, damages for trespass to property, damages for false imprisonment, costs and any other reliefs the court may deem fit.
Lubusha argued that his apprehension by DEC without cause, and his being transported like a criminal in a DEC vehicle are actions that were tantamount to false imprisonment, and that his right to movement as well as his right to liberty as protected under Article 12 and 13 respectively, were violated.