Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Tourism, Grace Chiumia, has been dragged to court for failing to compensate 14 workers of the National Registration Bureau which she got arrested in September last year.
The lawsuit comes after Chiumia defied the three months notice given to her to pay each of the officers K10 million for false imprisonment and assault among other offences.
According to a writ of summons that we have seen and has been filed at the High Court in Mzuzu on January 9, Chiumia is accused of abusing her powers when she was minister of Home Affairs to victimise Rudolf Kachapila and 13 others.
Lawyer for the claimants, Godfrey Nyirenda, confirmed the matter saying since the notice was served, both Chiumia and the Attorney General (AG) have not been cooperative.
“In the September notice, we made known our intent to sue the minister and the AG and the latter asked us to pend the lawsuit for them to consult the minister. Since then, we have not heard from them and we cannot wait any longer,” Nyirenda said.
He then reiterated that the AG, Charles Mhango, is also being sued in his capacity as government’s representative and also the conduct of the police officers in the saga.
According to the summons, Nyirenda seeks on behalf of his clients a court order condemning Chiumia and the AG in costs.
The two have since been given 28 days to satisfy the claim or file defence and 14 days to notify the plaintiffs through the court their intended action on the matter.
The 14 are claiming damages for false imprisonment, assault, defamation, inconvenience and transport costs.
“We are of conviction that our clients were wronged against and falsely accused and locked up for an offence they did not commit. The minister used her powers to victimise them and we are seeking justice in this matter,” Nyirenda said.
On September 17, last year, the claimants who were administering the National Registration Exercise went to a shopping mall in Mzuzu where they bumped into Chiumia also on a private errand.
When some of the officers reached out to her as minister responsible to alert her of the challenges they were experiencing such as unpaid salaries, Chiumia ignored them and veered away only to appear later in the company of a police vehicle and ordered the cops to arrest the NRB officers on grounds that she had information that they were planning to cause havoc and confusion.
“The claimants strongly believe that the first defendant’s conduct and action amount to false imprisonment of the claimant to which she is personally liable,” the summons reads in part.
Mhango did not pick our calls after several attempts but, in October last year, told this paper that his office was gathering information from all concerned.
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