The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) insists on interviewing former president Peter Mutharika today, despite Mutharika’s letter challenging the bureau to charge him with a crime before he can speak in the interview.
ACB was Tuesday expected to interview Mutharika on allegations of abuse of his Tax Payer Identification Number (TPIN) when he was in office but the former president raised grounds of objection against the interview, further branding ACB’s efforts as witch-hunting.
ACB Senior Public Relations Officer Egrita Ndala said the bureau had informed Mutharika that the interview would be conducted virtually today.
“We have responded to the former president’s letter and [our] response is that the interview should take place Wednesday [today],” she said.
Ndala could, however, not give further details on the logistical arrangements of the interview.
However, The Daily Times understands that the bureau indicated in yesterday’s letter to the former president that he was not charged with any offence and that the bureau was only interviewing him in line with Section 11(d) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA).
“For the performance of the functions of the Bureau under this Act, the Director may require any person, including any public officer, to provide any information, or to answer any question, in connection with an inquiry or investigation under this Act,” part of the section reads.
One source privy to the issue told us that—in the letter—the ACB further advises Mutharika that, under Section 11(d) of the CPA, he has no right to remain silent during the interview.
In his letter objecting to the interview with ACB on Tuesday, Mutharika said the interrogation was a political witch-hunt.
“Surprisingly, the ACB, who never questioned me in any way, froze my accounts citing use or misuse of my TPIN. You continued to have my accounts frozen for over 270 days until you could no longer renew the restriction notice that froze the accounts,” reads Mutharika’s letter to ACB.
Mutharika said he needed to know the offences he is facing before he can be interviewed by bureau officials.
“In my view, all this is a sustained political witch-hunt by a State institution. If a former head of State, must be called to answer these questions, then fairness demands that every previous president and vice president now living be called to explain how their TPIN has been used,” reads the letter in part.
Ndala declined to explain how the issues raised have been addressed by the bureau, saying the matter is “confidential”.
But criminal law expert Michael Goba Chipeta said the ACB could interview a suspect as part of its investigations even before charging them.
“If the ACB feels they need to speak to someone, they can. If anything, what that person can do is to exercise the right to remain silent,” he said.
Chipeta also said a suspect could not guide the ACB in its work to say “if you are questioning me, then also question that one”.
APM’s lawyer Samuel Tembenu did not pick his mobile phone for a comment.