Malawi’s former Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda and businessman Rashid Tayub of Transglobe spent a night under arrest after Blantyre Police declined to grant them bail, claiming that it is only the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Courts that are better placed to do so.
The Bureau arrested Chaponda (former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development), Tayub and Mijiga Mhango (former Chairperson for Grain Traders Association) for their involvement in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
The graft bursting body arrested the three after establishing that offences were committed in the procurement of maize from Zambia.
They were taken to the Bureau’s offices in Blantyre for caution statements from them and they were later moved to Blantyre Police Station after a day long interrogations.
According to some Senior Police Officer, who asked for anonymity, Blantyre Police could not grant them bail because the matter is beyond their jurisdiction.
“We don’t have the mandate to grant them bails despite being in our custody. It is only the Anti-Corruption Bureau that can release them on bail, not us,” said the Police Officer.
The suspects are expected to appear before the court on Thursday where they will be formerly charged.
Chaponda, according to ACB Senior Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala will be charged with corruptly performing public functions, misuse of public office and possession of foreign currency contrary to section, 25A(1), 25B (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act and Regulation 25A(1) of the Exchange Control Regulations as read with Section 3 of the Exchange Control Act respectively.
Mijiga Mhango will be charged with forgery contrary to Section 351of the Penal Code.
The Bureau obtained a warrant of arrest for the suspects on July 14 2017 and executed the warrants on the three on Wednesday, July 19 2017.
ACB has in recent times been under intense pressure and scrutiny on this matter with others claiming that the Bureauin were under instruction from the executive to obstruct justice in this matter for political reasons.
But Ndala said in a statement that tbe ACB will an independent professional institution which operates independently without any influence from any one.
She justified the delay to arrest the suspects by saying that the process of investigations can be complicated and needs to be conducted with due process and detailed care,”said Ndala.
Ndala claimed the Bureau empathizes with the concerns of the public for speedy investigations but quickily pointed out that such calls, in a democracy, need to be balanced with the due process required under the law.
“It should also be understood that in some cases where accused persons are members of parliament, parliamentary immunity when they are sitting in parliament may also delay such processes. Like all accused persons, the accused remain innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law,” said ACB spokesperson.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :