Malawi court withdraws ACB order on frozen bank accounts

The High Court in Mzuzu has withdrawn a restriction order by Malawi’s graft busting body, the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) that froze five bank accounts held at NBS Bank in Karonga belonging to five employees working for Chitipa District Council following consent by both parties.

In April this year, ACB without warning order the Bank to freeze Bank accounts of Young Chiumia, Felix Lupunga, Kettie Silungwe, Lusubilo Mwenitete and Lino Nyirenda.

However, the five through Mzuzu based lawyer George Kadzipatike are now challenging ACB’s decision saying it is unconstitutional because it was made without giving reasons in writing as demanded by section 43 of the Constitution.

“By consent of both parties…it is hereby ordered and directed that the judicial review matter is also withdrawn. That all miscellaneous applications in respect of this matter are withdrawn. That each party shall bear its own costs,” reads a consent order from the Court.

Under miscellaneous civil cause between: the State and the Director of the Anti-Corruption Bureau as respondents, the five applied for a judicial review asking the High Court in Mzuzu to  declare that ACB’s decision is procedurally improper and unreasonable arguing that as it was made without hearing  and giving notice of any hearing whatsoever, and without taking any statement.

Kadzipatike: ACB’s decision is procedurally improper and unreasonable
Kadzipatike: ACB’s decision is procedurally improper and unreasonable

“A declaration that the decision of ACB is against principles of transparency and accountability as the ACB has never brought its decision to the knowledge of the Applicants, nor has the ACB ever approached the Applicants on any allegations,” Kadzipatike said in his application, a copy Nyasa Times obtained.

Kadzipatike then asked the Court for an ex-parte order restraining the ACB, its agents or servants from freezing the bank accounts or restraining NBS Bank from dealing with the Applicants’ accounts.

Nevertheless, Judge Dingiswayo Madise has ordered that the application for judicial review must be interpartes, meaning ACB will have to present its case as well.

“Upon hearing counsel on behalf of the Applicants and upon reading the affidavit in support of the application, it is ordered that interim reliefs sought by the Applicants will be considered interpartes. And that the Applicants do file interpartes summons for stay of, and for an order for injunction against, the said decision of the Respondent within 7 days.” Madise said.

The Judge granted the Applicants leave to move for judicial review against ACB’s decision freezing their bank accounts or the decision restraining the said bank from dealing with the their bank accounts.

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