LAWYERS for Nigerian Civil Society Network Against Corruption chairman Olanrewaju Suraju say they are ready to appear in court over alleged contempt of court over the government oil deal involving Rupiah Banda.
Responding to former president Banda’s lawyers Makebi Zulu Advocates who want commence contempt proceedings against Suraju after he recently declared that Nigerians would demand their oil money from Zambia, Femi Falana Senior Advocates of Nigeria, in a letter to Makebi Zulu Advocates dated April 24, 2015, stated that should the proceedings be commenced, their client would take advantage of the case to provide further information on the article published by The Post.
“Since our client has neither accused any judge of bias nor exposed the judiciary of Zambia to ridicule in any manner whatsoever, you may wish to direct the attention of your client to The People vs David Masupa, High Court 1977, Zambia L.R 226, where it was held that what was required to prove contempt was an express or implied allegation of bias on the part of the judicial officer,” read the letter in part.
“However, should you decide to embark on contempt proceedings in the circumstances, kindly note that our client will take advantage of the case to provide further information on the said article.” Suraju’s lawyers argued that there was no legal justification for Banda to charge their client with contempt.
“Having read our client’s article entitled ‘Nigerians to follow their oil money in Zambia’ published in the The Post Newspaper of the 16th of April, there is no legal justification for your threat to charge our client with contempt of court, more so that he was exercising his human right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights,” stated Femi Falana Senior Advocates.
Makebi Zulu Advocates in a letter dated April 20, 2015, wrote to CSNAC asking the organisation’s chairman to retract his statement that Nigerians will demand the repayment of the oil money from Zambia, alleging that the statement was contemptuous.
But Suraju said he was ready to stand trial in Zambia “in defence of the truth”. “We stand by our words and assertion and I am expressing my willingness to stand trial as a witness of truth whenever they file for action,” said Suraju. –