The State is in limbo over the pending prosecution of former State House Press Aide Amos Chanda, as he was stopped from appearing in court yesterday.
The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) arrested Chanda on November 14, and charged him with corrupt practices by a public officer and receiving property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Sources tell News Diggers that Chanda is linked to the speed camera contract which the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) awarded to Intelligence Mobility Solutions (IMS). It is alleged that Chanda and former RTSA Chief Executive Officer Zindaba Soko received money from IMS boss Walid El Nahas, both of whom are also under arrest for similar charges.
Earlier on November 12 when Chanda was summoned for questioning but failed to appear, DEC issued a statement that the Commission was going to use other means necessary to extract him from his abode and make him face interrogations.
But a day later, Chanda told journalists that he failed to appear due to miscommunication and declared that he was ready to face DEC for questioning any time and day.
On the day of arrest, DEC kept the press at bay and whisked Chanda away after the interrogation which lasted a couple of hours, and declined to issue a statement on the details of the charges, but said he would appear in court on November 28.
However, Chanda did not appear in court yesterday and his lawyers told News Diggers that DEC advised them not to allow their client to proceed to court.
“We were ready, but we have been advised that the prosecution is not ready and so our client should not appear at court today. So we are not sure yet when he will appear, maybe you can get in touch with DEC, they may give a clearer explanation,” said Chanda’s lawyer.
A source told News Diggers that the State was in limbo over how to proceed with the high profile case and so Chanda may not appear in court this year.
“That is why they have not affixed a date to his next appearance, because the case is quite complicated. The correct thing would have been for Chanda to appear in court for explanation of the charge and to take plea. If he appeared in court, then he would have been placed on bail now or detained at remand prison, because he is under arrest and was released on police bond. But when DEC says he should not appear in court, then where does it leave his arrest? Does he remain under arrest? because it’s now two weeks since his arrest. This raises some questions, which you the press can ask the DEC,” said the source.
When contacted, Chanda confirmed that his lawyers had advised him not to appear and said he was not sure when his case would come up.
“I think you may ask DEC the institution which conducted the arrest. I appeared for questioning, I was placed under arrest and I was going to court today when I was called and told to stand down. That’s all I know,” said Chanda.
DEC spokesperson Theresa Katongo referred questions to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“I am not sure about that because my understanding is that the docket is with NPA (National Prosecutions Authority). So I will probably need to follow up,” said Katongo who called later to refer the query to the DPP.
“Just follow up with the DPP’s office on the court issue, I think they will be better to advise,” she said.
Asked if it was not her office which advised Chanda’s lawyers that he should not appear at court, Katongo said “That I am not sure because I was talking to our heard for money laundering, he is the one who told me that you (the press) will have to follow up with the DPP’s office on the court issues.”
Chanda resigned from his State House position on June 6, 2019 in unclear circumstances after serving President Edgar Lungu as spokesperson for five years.