Former First Lady, Esther Lungu, has challenged the jurisdiction of the Economic and Financial Crimes Court, to determine the matter in which the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is seeking the forefeiture to the State of her luxurious flats in State Lodge.
In a notice of motion to raise preliminary issues filed in the Court, Esther Lungu has questioned whether the matter was properly laid before a court which was constituted by the Chief Justice by Statutory Instrument number 5 of 2022 , as a division of the High Court was contrary to Article 133(2) and (3) of the constition of Zambia ( amended) Act number 2 of 2016.
She also raised an issue on whether or not the matter was premature, incompetent and therefore null and void, there being no predicted proceedings declaring the property “tainted property” as defined by Section 2 of the Forefeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No.19 of.2010; the absence of which predicted proceedings violates the provisions of Article 18 of the Republican constitution.
She urged the court to dismiss with costs the notice of motion filed by the DPP because the proceedings were unconstitutional.
“That I verily believe as advised by my advocates that the applicant has failed to obtain an order of this Court in respect of which the property sought to be forefeited is established to be tainted property and in the absence of such an order, I verily believe that the proceedings herein violate my constitutionally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty as these proceedings attribute guilt with no prior conviction associated with the said properties.
“That furthermore,I verily believe that these proceedings are unconstitutional as they are a violation of my Constitutional right against self incrimination,” she contested.
The DPP earlier contended that the onus was on the former First Lady to show that the properties in question worth about K24 million were not acquired through proceeds of crimes.
Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) senior investigations officer, Emmanuel Khondowe, in reply to affidavit in opposition to notice of motion, said as far as investigations were concerned, the said properties ought to be forefeited to the State because they were not legitimately acquired.
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