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48 houses ‘owners’ had no permit to invest in Zambia – ACC

THE Anti Corruption Commission has argued that there are no records showing that Tanzanian national Uziel Bashire or his cousin Zuberi Bigawa who are claiming ownership of the 48 houses were granted an investment permit to enable them invest in Zambia.

This is in a matter where Bashire, Bigawa and Charles Loyana,, a senior accountant at the Ministry of Finance, has sued ACC in the Lusaka High Court for forfeiting their property to the state.

According to their amended statement of claim, the three are seeking a declaration that Loyana, had and has the requisite power and authority by law to purchase, possess and own property in Zambia in his name for his own benefit or for the benefit of any other person.

They want an order that Bashire who is currently residing in Norway, has an interest in the properties bought by Loyana and was to be the ultimate beneficial owner of the 48 houses and Loyana as purchaser of the properties should be granted possession of the same.

Bashire, Bigawa and Loyana want a declaration that the Notice issued pursuant to the Anti-Corruption (Disposal of Recovered Property) Regulations, 2004 directed to Loyana and certain other individuals relating to the 48 houses did not fully comply with the law, and is null and void ab initio, and no longer has effect on the rightful owners claiming the properties.

The three who are represented by Willis Muhanga of Messrs AKM Legal Practitioners want a declaration that the arbitrary seizure and continuation of holding on of the properties by ACC despite the claim made by the rightful owners is unlawful and illegal.

Bashire, Bigawa and Loyana also want an Order for ACC to account and pay them all the income received as rentals from the date of the seizure to the date of the Order and or in the alternative mesne profits.

In the previous statement of claim the trio sought among other claims, an order that Bashire was the beneficial owner of the 48 houses and should be granted possession of the properties.

However, in its previous defence ACC said Bashire was not the beneficial owner of the 48 houses because he did not have capacity to own land in Zambia.

And in their amended statement of claim the plaintiffs explained that in 2011, Bashire decided to invest in real estate in Zambia.

They said upon acknowledging that Bashire was not qualified to own property in Zambia his own name because he is a foreigner, decided to partner with Loyana who qualified to purchase and own land in Zambia, and that Bashire would fund the purchase of land and construction of estates.

“Through a Power of Attorney dated November 25, 2011, he (Bashire) appointed his cousin Bigawa and gave him power to nominate and delegate to a trusted Zambian to purchase and develop real estate properties in Zambia for which Bashire would have interest and would in future be the beneficial owner and or subsequently as an absolute owner, while upon purchase, Loyana would own and possess the properties,” the three claimed.

Bashire, Bigawa and Loyana stated that it was agreed by all the parties that Loyana would receive a commission of 5 percent for any property purchased and register and own the properties in his name or any nominees.

They stated that ACC has arbitrarily continued holding on to the properties illegally and without any lawful justification, despite Bashire explaining that he had interest and was to be the beneficial owner of the properties, and that they were purchased through Loyana.

“Bashire through his lawyers then Messrs Hobday Kabwe & Co. wrote to ACC twice requesting for removal of the seizure notices on the properties in Chalala but the defendant has neglected, ignored and or refused to hand back the properties to the owners and they continue to claim that they do not know of any owner, when in fact they had been aware of how the properties were purchased by Loyana from Messrs Lombe Bwalya and Associates, and the existence of the claims made to them from the time they issued notices related to the said properties, and that the claims were made within the period prescribed by law,” said the three.

They lamented that Bashire and Loyana have suffered loss, deprivation of their properties and income.

However in its amended defence ACC said the power of attorney between Bashire and Bigawa aswel as between Bigawa and Charles Loyana does not state that Bashire would have interest and would in future be the beneficial owner while upon purchase Loyana would own and possess the properties.

ACC said on the other hand both powers of attorney indicate that Bashire shall be the beneficial owner of all the real estate to be bought by Loyana.

It said the power of attorney also included the power to bring or defend any proceedings on behalf of or against the 48 houses bought by Loyana but the latter did not challenge the forfeiture proceedings that were instituted by ACC despite being served with the notice of intention to have the properties forfeited to the state.

ACC stated that in a statement dated May 16, 2018 made to it Loyana said that he only owns two properties one in challah and the other in Chilenje and denied having bought any property from Lombe Bwalya and associates and also denied ever doing business with them.

It said Loyana’s wife in a statement dated July 11, 2018 informed it that she had only made one or two applications on behalf of other people and not 24 applications as alleged.

ACC argued that Chali Chitala in a statement dated September 26, 2019 denied be retained by Loyana and receiving any payment from him.

It said Loyana and his wife refused to sign the acknowledgment of service of the restriction notice. ACC said the plot numbers of on the said notices were obtained from Lombe Bwalya and Associates and the plaintiffs were aware that at the time of notices were issued that the plot numbers on the said notices were referring to the properties on the receipts obtained from Lombe Bwalya and Associates.

“The defendant complied with the provisions of the Anti-Corruption (Disposal of recovered property) Regulations of 2004 in that, when a gazette notice was issued on August 24, 2018 and it was only served on the plaintiffs. The properties were then forfeited to the state by operation of the law three months after the gazette notice was served in compliance with the provisions of the Anti-Corruption (Disposal of recovered property)Regulations of 2004,” ACC explained.

ACC stated that Bashire in a warn ad caution statement informed it that it was Loyana’s decision to engage a lawyer as he was told that the lawyer was to process the title deeds in his name.

The defendant complied with the procedure of forfeiture of recovered property as stated in the Anti-Corruption (Disposal of recovered property) Regulations of 2004.

It said Messrs Hobday Kabwe and Company wrote to it requesting the removal of the seizure notices on the properties in Chalala the properties had already been forfeited to the state.

ACC added that Bashire and Loyana are not entitled to any of the reliefs being claimed.

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