RUPIAH BANDA says he is an endangered species following his arrest for abuse of office over a Nigeria oil procurement deal.
And Banda, whose passport has been seized, opted not to say anything yesterday over the charge during interrogations on grounds that the case in which he challenged the lifting of his legal immunity is now before the courts.
Former president Banda, whose immunity was lifted by Parliament in view of a catalogue of allegations bordering on corruption and money laundering activities during his presidential tenure, arrived for questioning at the Drug Enforcement Commission offices at exactly 09:00 hours.
At around 11:00 hours, Banda was formally arrested and charged.
Bond formalities were finalised at the DEC offices because the probe team did not want to take him to a different police station to be charged.
A few minutes after 12:00 hours, Banda, who was in the company of his lawyers, Sakwiba Sikota and Prof Patrick Mvunga, came out of the DEC offices and greeted the journalists but as they tried to move close to him, he said: "If you could, just remain there please. You know I am an endangered species, so I don't want to be close to you."
Sikota said his client had been arrested in respect of the issue "of the so-called oil".
"So tomorrow you can come to the court, we will be there. He has been released on bond in his recognisance, with two sureties also in their own recognisance, obviously because he is not a flight risk. He is a well-known person, so there is no need for him to be incarcerated because the charges are bailable," said Sikota as Banda stood beside him. "They are saying something to do with Nigerian oil. From the way the thing is crafted, I am not very sure where the allegation is. We will see what kind of witnesses they will bring and so forth. They don't know how much is involved. They haven't stated how much is involved."
Asked what Banda's defence would be, Sikota said the truth was going to be their defence.
"The truth is that he is innocent and there is nothing wrong that he has done. That is the truth which shall come to pass and which we shall all see. It will also show you that this was obviously persecutionā€¦ I think it is going to be very amusing. In South Africa, you had what is called the Rivonia Trial; that is one where Nelson Mandela was charged with treason and so on. In Zambia, we had the Zero Option. You remember the Zero Option?" Sikota asked as Banda chipped in: "And I was also involved in that one."
He said it seemed the PF wants to have one of its own, which will be a 'lollipop and balloon trial'.
"You saw the results of the Zero Option. It was all trumped up. People were inconvenienced for many months and everything, and you saw for yourself there was no case. So the parallels are there," said Sikota.
MMD vice-president for administration Brig Gen Dr Brian Chituwo and Banda's executive secretary Mikatazo Wakumelo have signed as his sureties.
Banda added that his case affected the Zambians, hence it was necessary that they keep tags on it.
"May I thank you again, to all the press and all the Zambians interested in this caseā€¦it's a good thing that you sit in the sun for many hours to hear what my lawyers are going to say," Banda said.
"Naturally, it would have been better if I was sitting at home but I am a law-abiding citizen, I have to go through what everyone else goes through once they are charged."
Addressing chanting MMD and UPND cadres that were however outnumbered by anti-riot paramilitary police officers at Ridgeway Post Office, Banda said the whole world knew what was happening in Zambia.
This was after he was asked what would happen to his Carter Centre programmes since his passport had been seized.
Government Joint Investigations Team spokesperson Namukolo Kasumpa said Banda had been formally arrested and charged in connection with the procurement of the Nigerian oil, which did not benefit the Zambian government.
"He has been charged with abuse of authority contrary to section 99 1 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. He has been released on police bond and he will appear tomorrow today before the senior resident magistrate," said Kasumpa. "As part of his bond conditions, he has surrendered his passport and two working sureties, as well as KR500,000 in his recognizance. The next interview will be on the 4th of April, next week on Thursday, 2013."
And sources said Banda opted not to say anything under warn and caution because of his lifting of immunity case that is expected to come up for hearing in the High Court tomorrow.