Mutharika formally sues Yeremiah, Nation newspaper

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president Peter Mutharika has formally lodged legal suit against property evaluator Yeremiah Chihana and Weekend Nation newspaper for defamation of character.

The lawsuit is based on Chihana’s claims that Peter Mutharika had a joint account with his elder brother the late President Bingu wa Mutharika which was published in the newspaper.

Chihana – valuer of the estate of former Malawi president – said the late Mutharika accumulated K61billion within eight years in office and that DPP present leader Peter Mutharika had joint accounts with him outside the country.

The DPP leader had earlier given Chihana five days from July 18 2013, to produce evidence of the alleged joint accounts or retract the allegations in the newspaper.

Peter Mutharika:  Sues for defamation of character
Peter Mutharika: Sues for defamation of character

On Thursday the DPP president served the court writ to Chihana.

“As you are all aware, Mr. Yeremiah Chihana has made unfounded claims about me and the whole Mutharika family that I had joint accounts with my brother the late former president of Malawi, Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika.  These accusations are false, misleading and malicious,” said a statement from Mutharika made available to Nyasa Times by his ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ public relations office.

Mutharika a law professor added that the allegations “are aimed at tarnishing my image as a father, an upstanding citizen, and a political leader. They smack of a propaganda campaign to smear my name with dishonesty.”

He instructed lawyers to file for defamation of character and libelous publication “of such heinous claims.”

“ We are fully aware that the Weekend Nation, without any evidence, published on July 1, 2013 a story covering these false and malicious claims, on their part its unprofessional and irresponsible it should not be tolerated. The media should at all times provide the nation fact based stories and not be used as a machinery for character assassination.”

Mutharika vehemently denied holding a joint account with late Bingu in Malawi or anywhere in the world.

“So far no documents have been produced showing proof of a joint ownership,” said the statement/

Mutharika said is suing Weekend Nation newspaper “because the authors of these outrageous fabrications made no attempt whatsoever to verify these allegations” with him.

“It is therefore obvious that these stories are a campaign and election propaganda to derail our plans for 2014 Tripartite Elections,” the statement said.

Mutharika argues that Chihana is a person of “questionable character” owing to his previous conviction.

Meanwhile, Chihana hired lawyer Wapona Kita to counter sue the DPP and its spokesperson Nicholas Dausi for defamation demanding a combined compensation of up to K200 million (about $500 000).

Dausi said at a DPP news conference in the capital, Lilongwe that Chihana’s valuing of Mutharika’s property as worth K61 billion (about $152m), was guided by anger and malice against Mutharika to settle a political score.

He said: “It is an unfortunate and unfair political game. The final goal of the exercise is to weaken and disable the Honourable Professor Peter Mutharika and the DPP.”

Lawyer Kita said Dausi and DPP statement insinuated that Chihana is a liar and malicious.

According to Kita, only the courts that can declare if someone lied under oath and not party and personal statements.

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