Prosecutors given 7-days ultimatum on ex-envoy Chikago’s graft case

The High Court in Blantyre has ordered the state prosecutors to respond to submissions filed by former Malawi ambassador to Japan, Dr John Chikago, in which he has asked the court to discharge him from the corruption case he is facing together with former president Bakili Muluzi.

Chikago was arrested in 2006 and charged with corruption but his case was dismissed because the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had not obtained the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute’

The ACB wanted Chikago to explain how government funds were allegedly transferred in Japan between 25 September and 10 October 2003 under the Muluzi administration.

However, court records show that despite being indicted, there has been inaction on the part of the ACB to prosecute the matter.

Chikago: Justice is not a commodity to be traded

This forced Chikago, through his lawyer Chancy Gondwe of Chagwanjira and company lawyers, to file for discharge application before Justice Harley Potani.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times investigations reveal that the state prosecutors never filed any response to the application which was made in September last year.

But when the case resumed on Wednesday, the state asked for time to respond on the issue.

This did not please the presiding judge who therefore ordered the state to file its response before 4pm on July 31.

Meanwhile, Gondwe told Nyasa Times outside the court that his patience with the state on the case is wearing thin saying it is a proof that the charges are political.

“I, for one, can’t even understand why it has taken them so long to try the case, such delays makes people believe that my client is indeed a victim of political machination,” said Gondwe.

Refuses to testify against Muluzi

And in a dramatic turn of events, lawyer Gondwe further revealed that his client (Chikago)  was approached by ACB in May, 2008 to become a state witness to a case which was neither defined nor substantiated.

He was later asked towtestify against Muluzi in exchange for freedom, a gesture he vehemently refused.

“The ACB asked Dr. Chikago that he become state witness in Muluzi’s corruption trial but he refused. Such manoeuvring on the part of state tells you a story that there is no case against him.

“It is against this reason that we have asked the court to discharge Dr. Chikago on the basis that there is no substantial evidence,” added Gondwe.

Head of ACB, Alex Nampota is on record saying Chikago who was arrested in 2006 for allegedly stealing K5 million and later discharged from his case due to lack of evidence was re-arrested and charged because he refused to be witness to implicate Muluzi.

The former diplomat stated that “justice is not a commodity to be traded by anybody. He said that he was a man of principle who has represented his country and applied the highest integrity in serving the nation.”

Chikago, who is credited for the popular One Village One Product (OVOP) initiative during the Muluzi led administration, won another legal battle with the Industrial Relations Court in the year 2008, when the court ordered Malawi government to pay him K4, 437, 000.00 in compensation for unfair and unlawful termination of employment.

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