Dhaka, Jan 13 (UNB) – Observing that it is not necessary to be in parliament to become the opposition, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia during a hearing in a court here on Sunday said those who speak for people are the real opposition.
“Remaining in parliament never makes any party opposition, it can be from out of parliament if they stand for people,” she said during the hearing in the Niko graft case at the makeshift court inside the Old Dhaka Central Jail.
The court set January 21 for the next hearing in the case while January 15 for hearing an application filed by the BNP standing committee member Barrister Moudud Ahmed, another accused in the case.
In the beginning of the day’s proceedings, Moudud Ahmed started reading out the first information report and the charge-sheet of the case.
“It was the Awami League government which inked the deal with Niko. We just maintained its continuity. Those who struck the deal are now free. I’ve no hesitation to say we’re now the opposition …”
At this point, lawyer Borhanuddin reminded Moudud that they are not even the opposition now and Moudud instantly told the court they are now nowhere.
It was then when Khaleda who was sitting on a wheelchair came up with her remarks.
She said a party can be the opposition even if it is out of parliament. “Now we see the opposition can be from inside the government, too. BNP is the most popular party, no matter what condition it is in.”
Meanwhile, BNP’s secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir went to the courtroom and talked to their chairperson during the hearing.
Later, he left the court around 12:55 pm.
Earlier around 12:22pm, Khaleda was taken to the Special Judge Court-9 of Judge Sheikh Hafizur Rahman on a wheelchair.
On December 9, 2007, the Anti-Corruption Commission filed the case accusing Khaleda and others of causing the state a loss of Tk 137.77 billion by signing an oil-gas exploration deal with Canadian company Niko when the BNP was in office.
Police submitted a charge-sheet against the accused on May 5, 2008.
The others accused in the case are former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former principal secretary Kamal Uddin Siddique, Khandaker Shahidul Islam, CM Yusuf Hossain, former Bapex general manager Mir Mainul Haq, its former secretary Shafiur Rahman, Giasuddin Al Mamun, former MP MAH Selim and former vice-president of South-Asia affairs Niko Kashem Sharif.
Khaleda has been serving in jail after a court sentenced her to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust on February 8 last. The sentence was later extended to 10 years by the High Court.