Government hints at hono
By Cathy Maulidi:
Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba Monday convicted former National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) deputy chief executive officer Gerald Viola in connection with the K3.3 billion NFRA maize scandal.
The court found Viola guilty on the first charge of misuse of office while his accomplice, businessperson Chrispin Chingola, was found guilty on the count of influencing a public officer to misuse a public office.
However, the court cleared Viola on second and third counts of interfering with the work of the Internal Procurement and Disposal of Assets Committee and forgery, respectively.
Nyimba has set Monday, February 27 2023, as a day he will hand Viola and Chingola a sentence.
Immediately after delivering his judgement, Nyimba revoked Viola and Chingola’s bail, sending the two to Maula Prison as they await their sentencing.
Initially, Viola’s lawyer Luciano Mickeus had requested the court to allow Viola to remain on bail, a request that the State refused saying Viola should have his bail revoked now that he is a convict.
In his ruling, Nyimba agreed with the State and sent Viola and Chingola to prison awaiting their sentencing, saying the two cease to be innocent after being found guilty.
Speaking after the magistrate’s decision, Mickeus told The Daily Times that he was yet to speak to his client on the way forward.
Chief legal and prosecution officer for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Victor Chiwala expressed excitement with the judgement.
“We, as ACB, are happy with the verdict. They have been convicted of felonies. Normally, felonies go with custodial sentences unless the court decides otherwise,” Chiwala said.
Viola, alongside Chingola, was found with a case to answer in March last year.
Viola has been convicted of misuse of public office, in line with Section 258(1) of the Corrupt Practices Act, and was acquitted on the charge of interfering with the work of the Internal Procurement and Disposal of Assets Committee, in line with Section 57(1)(c) as read with Section 63(1) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (2017).
While jointly with Chingola, they have also been found not guilty on forgery, in line with Section 356 of the Penal Code, conspiracy to misuse public office, in line with Section 258(1) as read with Section 35 of the Corrupt Practices Act.
Chingola was found guilty on influencing a public officer to misuse a public office, in line with Section 258(2) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
They were arrested by the ACB in October 2020 for unilaterally issuing to Missies Trading a Local Purchasing Order number 6750 to supply 10,000 metric tonnes of maize worth K3.3 billion to NFRA for the business interest of Chingola of the said Missies Trading Company.