Former Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has revealed how President Hakainde Hichilema personally instructed the Anti-Corruption Commission to have him detained over the Easter holidays.
Reacting to ACC Spokesperson Queen Chibwe who said Mr Lusambo has been elusive, the Kabushi MP said he had been aware of the plot by the ACC to detain him for a longer period without a charge.
In an interview, Mr Lusambo stated he has never been elusive and has always presented himself to ACC or any investigative agencies for interrogation whenever called upon.
He has since charged that the move to place the ACC, Drug Enforcement Commission and the Financial Intelligence Centre at State House has compromised the fight against corruption.
Mr Lusambo stated that President Hichilema instructed ACC Acting Director-General Silumesi Muchula to ensure that he was put behind bars at Chimbokaila for the entire duration of Easter.
He said President Hichilema was agitated following a lone protest to UK Minister for Africa Vicky Ford on the deteriorating human rights situation in Zambia and instructed the ACC to have him detained without charge.
Mr Lusambo said he became aware of the manoeuvres by the ACC to circumvent the law and inconvenience him during Easter after receiving information from people close to Mr Muchula.
“President Hichilema wanted me to be taken to Chimbokaila for seven days right into Easter. The ACC led by Silumesi swung into action on the pretext that they are revoking my Bond issued after the initial arrest, I am not sure why Silumesi would insist on revoking my Bond when the matter is now in court and the Magistrate has now converted that Bond into Bail and even extended it?”
He added, “On Wednesday, April 13th 2022 between 10:30 Hours and 11:30 Hours, on a long phone call which I was able to access, Silumesi revealed details of the entire operation to throw me to Chimbokaila for no apparent reason. He told my friends that it was President Hichilema who instructed them to have me detained over Easter because the President was agitated that Bowman is causing so much noise, especially after the Vicky Ford protest.
“These people wanted to revoke a non-existent Bond as a way of caging me. That Bond was converted into Bail the day I appeared before Magistrate Hamaundu. On the same phone call, Silumesi claims I am interfering with Witnesses when they have never availed any list of Witnesses to court, so how am I going to guess that out of 18 million Zambians, this one and that one are ACC witnesses?”
Mr Lusambo warned the ACC Acting Director-General not to abuse his office by carrying out unlawful instructions.
“Silumesi knows that what the President asked him to do was illegal, even his officers that camped at my house the entire Wednesday last week looking for me told me that they didn’t agree with the entire operation because the allegations of witness tempering were bogus and that even the entire case was weak. I challenge him to deny if he never spoke to someone on Wednesday last week and confirmed that it was HH who wanted to lock me up,” he said.
“In that phone call, Silumesi was telling my colleagues that this whole operation was supervised by State House and that even the people who were looking for Bowman were OP Officers and not ACC officers but how can he as Acting D.G allow his unit to be so infuriated. I heard him claiming that they were so sure they would get me on the same Wednesday before close of day as they were closing in my location because they were monitoring all my phone calls. Silumesi was boosting that once they get me, it would please President Hichilema.”
He added, “My lawyers were in constant touch with the ACC. They asked them to avail the reasons they wanted me at their offices so that they could prepare my response but Silumesi was dodgy because all he wanted to have access to me so that he could carry out the orders to look me up to seven days at Chimbokaila hoping they would break me.”
Mr Lusambo further accused the ACC of moving in to seize his residence after they failed to arrest him.
“This was just a reaction. Even though Queen Chibwe knows that the house they claim to have seized is not part of the charges in court, they tried to attach that house on the court papers on two occasions but they always remove it because they know I built it using my personal funds even before I became a Minister. The issue of seizing my house only came up after they failed to locate me. They need to be professional and sincere about their work, carrying out illegal instructions won’t help them.”
The Kabushi MP has since appealed to the international community to take keen interest in the manner the UPND administration is going about the fight against corruption.
“What we have here is not the fight against corruption, we have a President hell bent on crushing his perceived political rivals on the pretext of fighting corruption and the international community and Diplomats serving here in Zambia should take notice of this before we breed a full-blown dictator,” he said.