Minister Jooma orders Admarc official arrest: Police dismiss charges

Minister of Economic Planning Ralph Jooma on Friday abused his ministerial powers and orchestrated arrest of Admarc officer, Maside Chambo for refusing to provide storage for maize belonging to the ruling Peoples Party (PP).

Jooma ordered Mangochi police to arrest Chambo, Unit Market Officer at Nkope Admarc depot in Mangochi-Monkey Bay constituency, on a charge of abuse of office after Chambo, on Thursday, refused to provide shelter to some bags of maize, which the minister was to distribute to constituents.

However, the police have cleared Chambo who was released on bail on Saturday March 1st of any offence and have since dismissed the charge.

Jooma: Ordered the arrest
Jooma: Ordered the arrest

Mangochi police Public Relations Officer, Roderick Maida said in an interview with Nyasa Times that they could not establish any offence against Chambo and have since released her on bail without being charged.

“We could not find any evidence to charge her, she was therefore released. We will investigate it further but as of now there is no offence to charge her with,” explained Maida.

Meanwhile, Chambo has been suspended from work for allegedly being caught ‘red-handed’ selling 150 bags of maize to a vendor, the claim which the minister defended to be true.

Admarc Regional Manager a Mr. Masamba said they would deploy officers to investigate the issue but contradicted the suspension letter signed by Admarc’s Human Resources Manager, Mike Majengo, saying Chambo was not caught red-handed selling the grain to vendors.

“What I know is that there was a complaint that she sold the maize to vendors, and we are yet to establish the truth. She wasn’t caught red-handed. I don’t know why the police didn’t charge her because the matter was referred to them, but we will also conduct our own investigations,” said Masamba.

In an interview, Jooma denied involving police to arrest Chambo, arguing “I only asked them to help trace the vendor who is said to have bought the grain and no to arrest her”.

Jooma however, insisted Chambo was guilty of selling the maize to vendors against government policy and demanded her transfer from the area.

“I received a report that on Thursday evening she sold 150 bags of maize to a vendor at Nabale trading centre, and on Friday morning I went there to verify. It was found out that she had received 350 bags of maize on previous day and had sold out 150 of them. The vendor confirmed he bought the maize from her”.

The minister insisted he has evidence to back up his claim but admitted the law-enforcers confided in him there was no offence against Chambo in absence of a law currently that could be used to prosecute her.

He, however, dismissed claims that he orchestrated her arrest because she refused to provide storage to the maize he was given by President Joyce Banda for campaign.

“I don’t think that will be a reason enough to order for her arrest. My concern is about her failing to abide by the government policy of not selling the maize to vendors in bulks. Seriously I don’t want her in my constituency. We have had alot problems with her.

Jooma vowed to fight for Chambo’s transfer from Nkope Admarc depot following their ailing relationship.

Chambo denied selling the maize to vendors, arguing she has reconciled sales account to prove her innocence.

“The minister came and audited all the transactions I did, and noted the maize was rationed at 10kgs per person. He even went through all the receipts; and it is 149 bags that were sold and not 150 as they claim. I have taken the issue to my lawyers,” said Chambo.

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