Esther Lungu will today reveal how she acquired pricy flats

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THE Economic and Financial Crimes Court has declined to stay Esther Lungu’s forfeiture case and allow her to challenge one of its rulings.

The Court says Esther’s application is devoid of merit as the there are no extenuating circumstances warranting it to suspend today’s proceedings.

In this case, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Court to forfeit Esther’s 15 semi-luxurious houses State lodge area worth K41.5 million on reasons that they were acquired using illegal means.

Esther wanted to challenge the Court’s decision to throw out her application to have the case referred to the Constitutional Court for a determination on whether the Chief Justice has power to constitute the EFCC, through a statutory instrument as a division of the High Court.

Esther argued that the jury erred when it ruled that the specialized Court enacted by the Chief Justice is a division of the High Court.

In opposing an application by former First Lady Esther Lungu to have her forfeiture case suspended pending appeal, Drug Enforcement Commission senior investigations officer Emmanuel Khondowe charged that constitutional rights to property does not extend to illegal wealth.

Khondowe said non-conviction based forfeiture does not require criminal proceedings or a conviction.

He said the halting of proceedings pending appeal is not a right but the same is exercised at the discretion of the Court.

Ruling on the application judges Pixie Yangailo, Mwanajiti Mabbolobbolo and Vincent Siloka said Esther made the application late on December 11, 2023 two months after they had already delivered ruling.

The jury said the appeal has failed to pass an arguable test.

“We are not persuaded, that the appeal will be rendered nugatory by the mere fact that the proceedings herein will proceed and a judgement on merit given. We say so because a judgement given is capable of being stayed,” the Court indicated.

“We therefore do not agree with the interested party’s assertion that proceeding herein will prejudice the interested party, as the Court might consider what the interested party considers to be erroneous conclusions in its judgement.”

The judges said a party who is keen on obstructing a matter from proceeding, would simply choose multiple appeals against interlocutory rulings by the trial court and then seek stay of proceedings in the trial court.

“An applicant must demonstrate that there are exceptional circumstances, which make the stay of proceedings justified as opposed to having the case concluded and arising grievances taken up on a single appeal. We opine that the interested party has not met this high threshold in this case,” said the Court.

It dismissed the application and condemned Esther to costs, which will be taxed in default of agreement.

The Court has also summoned two bank officials, Brian Muleya Mutakwa who is the branch manager of ZANACO, Cairo branch and Choolwe Chiyala a relationship manager of First National Bank Zambia Plc to produce Esther’s bank statements and including those of the Esther Lungu Foundation Trust.

The former First Lady will have her day in Court today at 09:00hours and explain how she acquired the 15 flats which the DEC suspects to be disproportionate to her income.

By Mwaka Ndawa

Kalemba March 22, 2024.

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