Former Zambian president acquitted over oil deal with Nigeria
30 June 2015, 10:37
Lusaka - Former Zambian president Rupiah Banda was acquitted on Monday after a court case in which he was alleged to have personally benefited from a $2.5m oil deal with Nigeria.
In a trial that began in early 2013, Banda was charged with abusing his authority in awarding the Nigerian contract.
"The case is dismissed and the consequences of this is that the accused is acquitted," Magistrate Joshua Banda told the court.
"There is no evidence brought by the prosecution that the benefits were to accrue to the accused's family and the prosecution failed to interview a single official from Nigeria."
Banda, who had pleaded not guilty after he was stripped of presidential immunity and arrested, sang and danced with his supporters outside the court.
"Let's love one another and forgive each other," he told reporters.
"Lets forget about this thing and move forward as a country."
The 78-year-old, who led the southern African nation from 2008 to 2011, faced a maximum of five years in prison if convicted.
Kenneth Konga, who was energy minister under Banda, told the court that he had travelled to Nigeria to secure the oil deal when Zambia was in desperate need of fuel and that the president had not made any profits.
Banda's successor, Michael Sata, cracked down on what he said was corruption within the previous administration, but critics accused Sata of persecuting opponents.
Sata died in 2014 and was succeeded by current leader Edgar Lungu.