The decision by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito to enter a nolle prosequi in a matter he is facing alleged criminal charges has been described as a scandalous and a judicial tragedy.
Civil rights activist Brebner Changala says he personally finds Mr. Nchito’s move to be a mark of unprecedented hypocrisy in the Commonwealth for a judicial officer to preside over his own case.
Mr. Changala has told Qfm News by telephone that this unprecedented action by the DPP calls for scrutiny and introspection as professional ethics have been brought into question.
He says such an unprecedented judicial tragedy also calls for the immediate intervention of President Edgar Lungu.
Mr. Changala states President Lungu needs to give guidance to the nation on this matter.
Earlier today the DPP Mutembo Nchito, in an unprecedented move, entered a nolle prosequi in the case in which he is facing criminal charges, advising the complainant to report the allegations to the police to investigate and charge him.
Mr. Nchito who is alleged to have committed among other offenses Abuse of Authority of Office, Contempt of court, Procuring execution of documents by false pretences and Conspiracy to defeat justice, appeared before Lusaka Magistrate Lameck Mwale for mention and plea this morning.
But before he could take plea, Mr. Nchito relieved the lawyers representing him and took over the proceedings after which he entered the nolle prosequi and asked the Magistrate not to place the proceedings of the matter on record.
In his argument for entering the nolle prosequi, Mr. Nchito told the court that he has been forced to use the powers vested in him under the constitution to stop the criminal proceedings against him because he does not think the due process of the law has been followed.
Mr. Nchito contended that he cannot be prosecuted on charges that have not been investigated and on which a signed charge sheet has not been drawn out.
He told Court that much as there is no one above the law there is also no one below the due process of the law and therefore he cannot consent to be prosecuted without following the due process of the law.
And in response to Mr. Nchito’s decision, Magistrate Mwale who had earlier ruled that the DPP takes plea despite him retaining his constitutional powers allowed the prosecution team representing former Finance Deputy Minister, Newton Ng’uni who is the complainant in this matter to be heard.
Magistrate Mwale ruled that this is because the matter at hand is unprecedented and therefore the prosecution team had to be heard.
In their submissions, the prosecution team which compromised lawyers from Makebi Zulu Advocates, PNP Advocates and Keith Mweemba Advocates contended that by entering a nolle prosequi in a matter he is facing alleged criminal charges, Mr. Nchito is in fact abusing his Authority as DPP.
The prosecution team has argued that it is also against law of natural justice for Mr. Nchito to enter a nolle prosequi with respect to himself, adding that there is no provision in the country’s constitution that protects the DPP from prosecution.
They further argued that the procedure should have been that the DPP first takes plea and enter a nolle prosequi afterwards especially that Magistrate Mwale had already ruled that the matter proceeds despite Mr. Nchito retaining his constitutional powers.
But Mr. Nchito maintained that as DPP he reserves the right to end any criminal proceedings at any level a matter in court reaches without giving any reason.
Magistrate Mwale has since adjourned the matter to 2nd March,2015 to enable him study what has been submitted before making ruling.