Ex-High Court Judge, Muma, questions High Court’s jurisdiction to hear his matter


Ex-High Court Judge, Wilfred Kopa Muma, has questioned the High Court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter in which he is facing two counts of willful failure to comply with the law and applicable procedure.

Muma, who was in June last year fired from the office of Judge by President Hakainde Hichilema, acting on the recommendation of the Judicial Complaints Commission (JSC), raised Preliminary issues when he appeared before the Economic and Financial Crimes Court, High Court division, Thursday.

When the matter came up for plea before Judges Pixie Yangailo, Ann Malata-Ononuju and Ian Mabbolobolo, the accused through his lawyer, Honest Chizwe, subnitted that the High Court as constituted had no jurisdiction to try the offences under the charge pursuant to Section 34(2)(b) of the Anti-Corruption Act no. 3 of 2012.

“While we are alive to the fact that the High Court can try any matter. Those criminal matters that can be tried are stated in the procedure code.

“The offences which are suppose to be tried by the High Court as the court of first instance are specifically provided for and listed in the schedule in the CPC pursuant to gazette notice of no. 5 of 1962, and also gazette notice no 172 of 1962, gazette no.135 of 1963 under the SI of 277 of 1965,” he argued.

He submitted that a criminal matter should be determined by a single Judge according to section 261 of the CPC, thus, the Court was improperly constituted because the case was not an appeal from the Subordinate Court.

The defence lawyer contended that there was never an inquiry constituted concluded that the Subordinate Court by itself should hear the case or should be referred to to the High Court.

“This matter was before the Subordinate Court and in the process the State brings the order from the High Court pressing on the record of the lower court and that order was obtained exparte.

“The accused is not aware of any proceedings in the high Court purported to have been obtained under section 80 of CPC. That order including the summons are unfortunately citing the accused person and defence counsel who were not a party to any proceedings,” he submitted.

The matter was adjourned to February 5,2024, for the State to respond to the issues raised.

It is alleged that on a date unknown but between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 in Lusaka, being Commissioner of Lands wilfully did fail to comply with the law, namely, section 84 (f) of the Lands and Deeds Registry Act, Chapter 185 of the Laws of Zambia in the manner he instructed his subordinates to cancel Certificate of Title no. 21818 relating to public property number Lusak/ LN 8426/1 without following the law and applicable procedure.

In count two, it is alleged that on a date unknown but between 1st April, 2018 and 31st December, 2018 in the Lusaka District of the Lusaka Province of the Republic of Zambia, being a public officer, namely, Commissioner of Lands did abuse the authority of office by requesting the Army Commander to surrender the certificate of title in respect of property number Lusak/LN-8426/1 and offering it to the Patriotic Front Party, an act arbitrary and prejudicial to the interest of the government of the Republic of Zambia.

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