The High Court in Mzuzu has issued a default judgment signed by Assistant Registrar Brian Sambo against Cabinet minister Grace Chiumia in a case in which she was sued for ordering 14 National Registration Bureau (NRB) workers on September 17 2017 when she headed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security.
Chiumia, who is now the Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, failed to defend herself in her personal capacity, within 28 days from the day the case was filled on January 9 2018.
The 14 workers filed Civil Cause number 5 of 2018 at the High Court in Mzuzu demanding damages worth K140 million for false imprisonment, defamation, assault, inconvenience, transport expenses and legal costs.
They also want Chiumia to pay the legal costs.
Attorney General who was also sued in the case responded through senior State advocate Aristotle Mahonga on January 30 2018 rejecting demands for damage, arguing that the arrests were made “on reasonable and probable cause”.
Argues the State: “…the allegation of false imprisonment, defamation, assault, and inconvenience as pleased and particularised in the claimant’s statement of claim are denied.
“The defendant contends that his officers had reasonable and probable cause to arrest the claimants as the complaint that they received disclosed a prima facie case for unlawful assembly against the claimants.”
The State further argues that the alleged injuries, loss and damages in the claimants’ statement of case are also denied.
But the Attorney General accepted that Chiumia can be sued in her personal capacity besides being sued as a minister.
In the default judgement, the court orders Chiumia to “pay the claimants damages; for false imprisonment…”
The case will now go into assessment to determine how much Chiumia will have to pay the 14 NRB workers who sued her.
Chiumia stands accused of ordering the arrest of the NRB officers who convened at Mzuzu Shoprite on September 27 2018 to discuss “personal and work related issues”.
They were released on police bail 28 hours after detention following pressure from their workmates and civil society.
Following the arrest and their release, the 14, through their lawyers Chram Associates, wrote Chiumia and the Attorney General (AG) on September 19 2017, demanding K140 million as compensation for false arrest.
The AG responded on October 30 2017, through senior State advocate Neverson Chisiza, that the matter was being taken seriously, asking the lawyers to pend litigation so that they discuss with their clients.
However, three months elapsed without any action from Chiumia and the AG, forcing them to take legal action.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :