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Ex-Director of Finance at OOP testifies in K1.5 bn case involving former generals

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Former Director of Finance at the Office of the President (OOP) testified that he received instructions from the Director General at his office, Redgers Phiri to facilitate the transaction of K1.5 billion into a named Zambia Air Force (ZAF) account.

Abel Lungu who is now Executive Director at the Office of the President testified that he was instructed on September 15, 2011 but started the process to transfer the funds on September 16, 2011.

This is in case in which  former ZAF commander Lieutenant General Andrew Sakala, Major General Anthony Yeta and Major General Wisdom Lopa are charged with theft by public servant contrary to section 272 and 277 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia.

Lungu, who was before Principal Resident Magistrate Wilfred Muma, told the court that he did not know the purpose of the funds in question.

In the same court, Colonel Musa Chibesa 43, Director of Finance at ZAF, who is a witness in the case, testified that on September 15, 2011 he was called on phone by former ZAF commander to expect K1.5 billion meant for special operations.

He told the court that the funds were to be used by Zambia Army, ZAF and Zambia National Service (ZNS) for special operations in the Aircraft Hire account.

Col. Chibesa explained that the Aircraft Hire account is a non-public fund used for special operations.

He said that on September 16, 2011, he called the bank manager to find out if there was any deposit made of which the Bank Manager at ZANCO confirmed receiving a deposit of K1.5 billion.

Col. Chibesa was then given a go ahead by the former commander to withdraw K500 million.

He then asked Captain Keith Mudenda a cashier at ZAF to raise a cheque to that effect.

He testified that other transactions were made on  September 19 and 21 last year, upon receiving instructions from then Air Commander involving K500 million for each transaction.

Col. Chibesa further explained that there were no details on the bank statement indicating where the money had come from because the bank did not disclose the source.

He told the court that he did not know how the money was spent as this information could be known by the former commander and the service chiefs.

“I do not know where the K1.5 billion was coming from and I did not know how the funds were disbursed,” he said.

He told the court that the money was not included in the ZAF budget and there was no mention of the K1.5 billion in the monthly returns submitted to the Ministry of Defence.

Col. Chibesa testified that he does not know the accounting procedures for special operations and this particular transaction involving K1.5 billion was the first kind of payment made.

He, however, told the court that the transaction would not raise any audit queries because they were for special operations adding that special operations come under other entities.

Col. Chibesa said that the normal operations are sourced from the treasury through the Ministry of Defence to the air force.

The matter has been adjourned to September 11 and 14 for continued trail.

(Source: ZANIS)

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