FORMER Konkola Copper Mines Provisional Liquidator Milingo Lungu has argued that the allocation of a case in which he is charged with possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime to the Economic and Financial Crimes Court is discriminatory.

He has therefore asked the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court for determination on whether the creation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Court is justifiable in a democracy and whether the same is in tandem with the principle of Constitutionalism.

In this matter, it is alleged that Lungu between January 1, 2019 and March 31, 2022 in Lusaka, did possess stand number 7934 Sunningdale, property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.

When the matter came up before Lusaka magistrate Stanford Ngobola for plea, yesterday, one of the defence lawyers, Makebi Zulu informed the court that his client was asking the court to refer the case to the Constitutional Court.

He said it was not in dispute that sometime in October 2021, there was a pronouncement by the Executive that the Economic and Financial Crimes Court would be established, and that on January 13, 2022, the Minister of Justice reiterated the same.

Zulu submitted that on January 14, 2022, Chief Justice Mumba Malila promulgated statutory instrument (SI) no. 5 of 2022 which established the court.

He submitted that the court was administratively constituted and that certain magistrates were appointed to handle cases from the said court.

Zulu argued that magistrate Ngobola who is handling his client’s case was one of those magistrates appointed to hear such cases.

He further argued that there was a kind of discrimination by allocating certain people like his client to the Economic and Financial Crimes Court, in that all persons charged with crime must in law stand on the same footing at the bar of justice.

Zulu added that no person should be subjected to a process which appeared to be discriminatory.

He said the questions raised by his client required interpretation by the Constitutional Court.

“For that reason, we ask that this matter be referred to the Constitutional Court for answering of the questions raised,” the lawyer submitted.

But in response, the state asked for an adjournment to enable them to respond to the application in a detailed manner, which the defence did not object to.

Magistrate Ngobola adjourned the matter to May 6, 2022.