Why the delay to act on Nkonde’s K2.5m Tedworth case, JCTR asks ACC
By Lulumbi Nakazwe
JESUIT Centre for Theological Reflection has wondered why the Anti-Corruption Commission is not acting on allegations that judge Sunday Nkonde Nkonde obtained K2.5 million from the Tedworth Properties Inc account.
Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR), a Catholic-run organisation whose focus is advocacy for the welfare of Zambians, said the investigative wing should not waste time in taking action over the matter now that a formal complaint had been lodged.
Dr Cosmas Musumali, an economist, recently wrote to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) asking it to probe judge Nkonde’s conduct of obtaining K2.5 million from the account of Tedworth.
He earlier wrote to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, copied to the judge-in-charge of the Commercial Court and TIZ, asking that they immediately investigate judge Nkonde’s possible criminal behaviour.
JCTR head of programmes Geoffrey Chongo said the Anti-Corruption Commission
should quickly take action on the matter.
“He is being accused of having withdrawn money from the Tedworth account. I have been following the matter particularly Dr Musumali’s letter to the ACC. I mean, he is a public officer and this is painting a very bad picture on the office that he occupies. They shouldn’t take long to act. Justice delayed is justice denied,” Chongo said.
“I have been following the discussions. What we are saying is that there is credibility of state institutions being questioned here. Him (judge Nkonde) as an individual, we wouldn’t care. It is the office that he occupies that we are worried about because it is a government institution that is being dented.”
He said the JCTR would like to see quick action on the matter because it was in the interest of the government and not the people demanding to have judge Nkonde probed.
He advised the ACC to deal with the matter expeditiously, saying that Zambians were eager to hear the outcome of the matter.
“Normally, ACC says if no one complains, it’s difficult for them to take action on hearsay. But someone has lodged a complaint. So, what more does ACC want before they take action? The appeal is that they respond to the many complaints that people are lodging and the formal one which we know by Dr Musumali. They just need to quickly act on the issue and clear the office that judge Nkonde is occupying because it is not painting a good picture,” said Chongo.
The Supreme Court recently upheld a High Court judgment which ordered the forfeiture of Tedworth Properties, months after judge Nkonde had ordered a payment of K2.5 million to himself as legal fees for purportedly representing the company incorporated in Panama.
Dr Musumali said while the judgment was good, it had exposed a member of the Judiciary, judge Nkonde, whose conduct was “less than honourable”.
“As you are no doubt aware by now, judge Nkonde obtained K2.5 million from the forfeited funds of the Tedworth Properties Inc, allegedly of Panama. I write to formally lodge a complaint against judge Nkonde’s possible criminal behaviour and request that an investigation be instituted for, among other things, abuse of authority office for the reasons and on the grounds I highlight below: who instructed judge Nkonde to act for Tedworth? You will notice that at no time has judge Nkonde answered this question. In this regard, he has completely failed to point to any natural person or individual who instructed him to act for Tedworth. He could not legally claim fees from a client who never instructed him,” stated Dr Musumali in his letter to the ACC.
“When judge Nkonde obtained the money in October 2016, from the Tedworth funds, he was a sitting High Court judge. In what capacity did he obtain the money? To what extent did his office as judge aid him to exert pressure for the release of the money? In view of the fact that the money judge Nkonde obtained has been adjudged to be State money, isn’t it a criminal offence to use State money to pay for the legal bills of private or fictitious companies, which are the subject of criminal investigations? As a sitting High Court judge, shouldn’t he have waited for the Supreme Court to conclude the case before exerting pressure for the release of the money? Further, when he rendered his bill for K2.5 billion unrebased for work allegedly done for Tedworth, to whom did he send that bill and what natural person or individual did he talk to about the bill when the bill was ostensibly not paid?”