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Ex-diplomat John Chikago sues Anti-Corruption Bureau for wrongful arrests in 2006 and 2009

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Former Ambassador to Japan, John Chikago, has sued the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), claiming damages for wrongful arrests in 2006 and 2009 on allegations of misappropriating public funds.

In May 2006, the ACB arrested Chikago on allegations that in October 2003 when he was Malawi’s Ambassador to Japan, he abused his position as a public officer by instructing that K5,982,435 meant for the Embassy be converted to be his.

Later, the Blantyre Magistrate’s Court dropped the case and discharged Chikago for lack of evidence.

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The affidavit that Chikago’s legal counsel, Chagwamnjira and Company, filed at the High Court registry in Blantyre on November 9, 2015, has James John Chikago as first plaintiff and ADEC

Enterprise Limited as second plaintiff with Director of the ACB as defendant.

In the affidavit, Chikago says the defendant acted on malice and lack of reasonable and probable cause when he failed and refused to listen to him that he received the money under instructions from authorities to purchase a vehicle for the then president Bakili Muluzi.

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“On or about 31st May, 2006, the defendant wrongfully arrested me for allegedly stealing MK5,919,092.81 of public funds when in reality the said funds were legally sent through the normal Malawi government channels to the Malawi Embassy in Japan with instructions to buy a car for the then president of the Republic of Malawi Dr. Bakili Muluzi and surrender the remaining amount to a protocol officer namely Ms. Edith Chinjala as her allowance during an advance party trip to Japan for a presidential visit,” the plaintiff’s witness statement reads in part.

On the day of arrest, Chikago said he was detained and interrogated for over five hours at the ACB offices in Blantyre before his overnight detention at Blantyre Police Station.

He was released on bail the following day after being charged with theft before the court discharged him.

In March 2009, ACB rearrested Chikago in connection to the same case.

Later, the ACB made Chikago a co-accused in a case involving the former president Muluzi at the High Court in Blantyre where he had been appearing before being unconditionally discharged.

In 2008, ACB is said to have approached Chikago to become a state witness against Muluzi in a case in which the former president is answering charges of misappropriating K1.7 billion from the Japanese government, an arrangement Chikago rejected.

According to Chikago, the direct consequence of his second arrest and being charged as coaccused to Muluzi is that the National Bank of Malawi declined to continue extending a bank facility of K12 million to ADEC Enterprise which Chikago owns.

“Since the defendant arrested me and laid the charges, my personal and professional reputation was negatively affected as testified by the National Bank of Malawi’s refusal to do further business with the 2nd Plaintiff over concern with my case at the defendant.

“Since the time of my arrest, I have failed to secure any gainful employment despite that I possess a doctorate degree in business administration and have experience in tea tasting and manufacturing,” Chikago’s statement reads.

He said, the ACB refused to listen to him, wrongfully detained him, exposed him to inhumane conditions in police cells and successfully tarnished his reputation through the mass media’s bad publicity.

“I, therefore, claim damages for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment; damages for malicious prosecution; damages for humiliation and loss of reputation; damages for loss of income; damages for loss of employment opportunities and costs of this action. I also claim special damages in cost incurred in legal fees in the sum of K3, 000,000.00 and the cost incurred in reporting for bail in the sum of MK270, 000.00,” the other part of the statement reads.

The Director of ACB was served with the affidavit through the ACB Blantyre officer on November 12, 2015.

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