Thursday, July 18, 2024

Updated: ACB Czar Martha Chizuma arrested over breach of oath of secrecy

Chilima being welcomed by Martha Chizuma at ACB function months ago (both are answering to court charges)

In an ambush-like style, the Malawi Police launched a pre-dawn raid as if to arrest hard-core criminals, all to arrest the country’s corruption-busting body Czar Martha Chizuma in the capital Lilongwe.

Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya has confirmed the arrest and says Chizuma is being kept at Namitete Police Station outside the boundaries of the capital Lilongwe. Chizuma’s lawyer, Martha Kaukonde has also confirmed the arrest saying she is on her way to the Police Station to understand the reason behind his arrest.

However, Shire Times has learnt that the arrest is in connection with the breach of the oath of secrecy when Chizuma revealed confidential information to a third party. In a leaked phone conversation, Chizuma was lamenting that there is no political will to fight the vice in connection with the Ashok-Zunneth Sattar corruption scandal where the Vice President and other top government officials are implicated.

In an interview, Chizuma said she knows what was happening:

“I know what is happening. And I know why it is happening now. I have a very good idea of the timing. They should be fighting corruption. Not this,” said Chizuma.

The genesis leading to this arrest is the order Senior Resident Magistrate Court, Godfrey Nyirenda, gave to the Malawi Police Service and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to investigate a leaked audio involving Chizuma. The order was given following an application by Mzuzu resident Frighton Phompho, to ascertain if criminal charges can be brought against Chizuma over the leaked audio. Phompho argued that Chizuma violated the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) oath of secrecy offence provision.

The said section 49B provision reads as follows:

“Any person in the service of the Bureau as an employee, an agent or a consultant or in any other capacity, and having taken an oath of secrecy in the prescribed form in relation thereto, who—

(a) except as a witness in any court or in pursuance of his duties in relation to the Bureau, directly

or indirectly, provides or discloses to any unauthorized person the nature or contents of any document, communication or information whatsoever which has come to his knowledge in the course of his duties in relation to the Bureau;

(b) makes use for his own purposes or for the purposes of any other person any knowledge acquired from any document, communication or information which he has acquired or obtained in the course of his duties in relation to the Bureau, shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable to a fine of K50,000 and imprisonment for two years.”

The Vice President was arrested recently by the ACB where six charges were lodged against him.  Inside sources indicate that following the arrest of Chizuma, the government is poised to appoint Senior Counsel Anthony Kamanga to lead the ACB.

In a statement released by the Police and signed by Kalaya, Chizuma has been charged with ‘making use of speech capable of prejudicing a person against a party to a judicial proceeding which is contrary to section 113(1)(d) of the Penal Code. In the statement, Kalaya said the Police made the arrest following the complaint made by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steven Kayuni who alleged that he was injured by the ACB Director General in a leaked audio clip in January 2022.

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