Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Martha Chizuma, has counter-warned Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials that the Bureau will not hesitate to invoke Section 13 of the Corrupt Practices Act on anyone trying to obstruct justice in its investigation.
ACB is investigating alleged abuse of the taxpayer identification number (TPIN) of former President Arthur Peter Mutharika by his close allies and aides, including former Chief of Staff Peter Mkhitho and Norman Chisale.
Using Mutharika’s TPIN, Mkhitho and Chisale are alleged to have imported cement worth millions of Malawi kwacha, which they sold for a profit in Malawi.
However, on Saturday, DPP publicity secretary Shadric Namalomba penned the Bureau, warning it to stop harassing APM by “abusing their powers and the legal processes”.
Namalomba claimed that ACB has constantly persecuted Mutharika by freezing his bank accounts such that he was unable to access money for his daily living expenses.
“Up to now, they have not demonstrated to the country why they are doing this. We consider this to be a total abuse of their power. If the ACB wants Malawians to take them seriously in fighting corruption, it must do so by dealing with the rampant corruption, which is going on in the current government at the moment,” he said in his letter directed to the Bureau.
Namalomba further claimed that ACB now wants to invade and search the Former President’s house, personal phones and laptops.
He contended that the intended search is contrary to the laws of this country under Section 21 (a) of the Constitution.
“The intended search for an innocent former President, who is not charged with any crime, amounts to political persecution and psychological torture of the highest order. If the ACB is indeed a body mandated to fight corruption, it must have told the nation the offences that the former President has committed,” said Namalomba.
But in her reaction, Chizuma said Namalomba and DPP, as a party, that they had no right to dictate to it on what course of action it should take in pursuing justice in the alleged TPIN abuse.
The Iron Lady emphasized that as much as DPP has a right to look out for the interest of the welfare of its members, the party cannot stop the wheels of justice on people suspected to have committed corrupt offences.
“They do not have any right at all to threaten or intimidate institutions like the Bureau. Everything that the Bureau has done in respect of the issue of the alleged abuse of the TPIN belonging to the former President are all within the law,” said Chizuma.
“And also just to inform Malawians that they have no right to intimidate or threaten the Bureau and that such threats actually, under the law, amount to a criminal offense, according to Section 13 of the Corrupt Practices Act. And the Bureau will not hesitate to pursue that route where need arises,” she warned.
Chizuma wondered why Mutharika himself did not seek a court relief in the event that he felt he was being politically persecuted through the ongoing TPIN abuse case.
“If there was anything that we did that might have overstepped our mandate, then DPP would have sought relief from the court. But he hasn’t done that and I am sure it’s because he probably knows that there is nothing that we have done that is out of the ordinary. Just to emphasize that, for us, we will not cower to any attempt to threats or intimidation. We will continue doing our work within the law as per our mandate.”
“Every time the Bureau is supposed to do that, there is supposed to be a proper warrant from the court. And for the court to grant that warrant, the court needs to be satisfied with the reasons why we need such a warrant. If we get that warrant and when we execute it, we are executing it on a warrant from the court, not us! So, the court has been satisfied and has given us that order. So, when we are executing that warrant, there’s nothing illegal about it,” said Chizuma.
She emphasized that the law allows the Bureau to question any person who we believe could have such information in relation to an investigation that the Bureau is undertaking.
At this point, Chizuma said whatever engagements “we have been having with the former President are within the dictates of the law”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :