Lusaka businessman and civil rights activist Brebner Changala says the consent order entered into between High Court judge Sunday Nkonde and Attorney General Likando Kalaluka is criminal.
Early this year, shareholders of The Post Newspapers wrote to the Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC), complaining about the conduct of judge Nkonde over the manner in which he handled the liquidation of the newspaper company.
After reviewing the charges raised by the shareholders, the JCC found judge Nkonde with a case to answer, but he refused to exculpate himself on ground that some of the complaints raised were still awaiting his ruling in his court.
The JCC then wrote to President Lungu, recommending that the Head of State suspends the accused judge who had been found with a prima facie case to answer.
Judge Nkonde however, went to Kitwe and obtained a stay in form of judicial review, restraining the President from suspending him.
On Wednesday this week, the Daily Nation reported that judge Nkonde’s lawyers Makebi Zulu Advocates entered into a consent order with the Attorney General (acting on behalf of the JCC), thereby quashing the JCC’s recommendation to suspend the High Court judge.
“The decision and ruling of the Commission dated November 10, 2017 is hereby removed into the High Court and accordingly quashed,” reported the Nation without further details of the grounds upon which the decision was made.
Commenting on the matter, Changala who has been in good books with the Patriotic Front government, said the move was criminal.
“The JCC wrote to the President to suspend judge Sunday Nkonde, but he made a move from Lusaka, jump Kabwe, jump Ndola and go to Kitwe get a judicial review which acted as a stay. Now in that judicial review, the respondent is the Attorney General acting on behalf of the JCC as a government institution. There was suppose to be a second respondent in that matter and the second respondent is the complainant, the one who made the JCC move. Now, they deliberately saved the Attorney General and the president the notice, they leave out the mover of the JCC, the aggrieved party in this case Fred M’membe or indeed The Post shareholder who were not attached to the documents and that is where the catch comes in,” Changala said.
“Now the lawyers for Sunday Nkonde and the Attorney General have entered into what they are calling a consent order, in other words killing the whole case. Now how will the complainant get the cure? Because the complaint still stands, how are they going to cure the complaints of Mr Fred M’membe and indeed the post newspaper itself? Now because this thing has been done in a hurry and there is collusion, they are leaving a lot of unanswered questions.This is criminal now because they have not followed the right procedure.”
He observed that the closure of The Post was not done in accordance with the law.
“I speak to you as a concerned citizen because The Post was now an institution, it was not a personal property for Fred M’membe. It could have been at PACRA personal property but it became a wing or an institution that was helping us to nature our young democracy. And I speak as a concerned citizen that the liquidation of the post has not been handled properly. There is a hand of criminality in it and I want to make a warning to whoever is behind this that a lot of people will go to jail over the post. This is a timely warning, a lot of people will go to jail if they don’t handle this matter in the most transparent manner. There is no way they can enter into a consent order without the participation of the complainant,” said Changala.