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High Court saves Kezzie Msukwa

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MADE THE RULING—Ntaba

Zomba High Court judge Zione Ntaba has suspended the arrest and further detention of Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa who was nabbed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Friday.

Ntaba has questioned the manner in which Msukwa was arrested, describing it as unreasonable and meant to just embarrass him.

However, ACB Director General Martha Chizuma said Saturday evening that the bureau did not agree with the court’s decision.

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“We have complied with the court order. However, since we do not agree with it, we are working on having it discharged,” Chizuma said.

Msukwa, who was detained on counts bordering on corrupt use of official powers, went to the High Court seeking that it should grant him permission to apply for a judicial review of his arrest.

While declining to rule on the application and directing that the matter should be handled by the Lilongwe District Registry, since Msukwa and ACB are based in the city, Justice Ntaba has said that on a balance of probabilities, the suspect could have been granted the permission to apply for the judicial review.

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“The defendant in executing the warrant on 31st December, 2021, decided to do so whilst [Msukwa] was on a hospital bed and in the process [violated] his right to privacy and jeopardised his health, to mention a few.

“These are issues which courts should frown upon. This is more so especially where the public office or officer doing so is one constitutionally mandated to uphold the rule of law,” reads part of the ruling.

Ntaba has since directed that when ACB executes any warrant of arrest against Msukwa, the bureau should do so in line with the Constitution including informing him of the reason of his arrest as well as his rights.

“This court’s conclusion from the facts is that the said arrest on the face of it is unlawful as it falls short having offended section 42 (1) of the Constitution as well as Section 20 A (1) & (3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code,” the ruling says.

The graft-busting body obtained a warrant of arrest against Msukwa in relation to his alleged land deals with businessperson Zuneth Sattar and his partner Ashok Nair.

The minister, who is also Member of Parliament for Chitipa East, is suspected to have received an advantage in the form of a Mercedes Benz C-Class and money from Sattar to be allocated land in Lilongwe.

The statement by ACB announcing Msukwa’s arrest indicated that the bureau established that “Zuneth Sattar through his agent Ashok Kumar Sreedharan aka Ashok Nair engaged in some corrupt practices in some land-related matters in Area 46, Lilongwe District and Chipoka in Salima District.”

“The investigations have so far established that in relation to the mentioned land matters, Hon Kezzie Msukwa on four occasions corruptly used his official powers contrary to Section 25 (1) as read together with Section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act.

“The investigations further established that Mr Sattar’s agent Ashok Kumar Sreedharan aka Ashok Nair  aided in procuring corrupt use of official powers contrary to Section 35 as read together with Section 25 (2) and Section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, ACB Chief Legal and Prosecutions Officer, Victor Chiwala, disclosed in court on Friday when Nair was brought to be formally charged that the bureau would arrest two more people before it starts prosecuting the case.

Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa threw out Nair’s bail application and instead remanded him to Maula Prison where he is expected to stay for the rest of the trial period unless otherwise.

Sattar, who is currently based in the United Kingdom where he was arrested and granted bail, is also facing an investigation by that country’s National Crime Agency on allegations of corrupt dealings with the government of Malawi.

Recently, ACB restricted the Ministry of Lands from dealing with 86 properties in which it is believed that Sattar has beneficial interest.

The restriction was reportedly part of investigations by the bureau following allegations that Sattar and Nair have been giving bribes to politically exposed persons to influence various government departments to corruptly award contracts to companies belonging to the former.

 

corrupt use of official powers contrary to Section 35 as read together with Section 25 (2) and Section 34 of the Corrupt Practices Act,” the statement said. aided in procuring

Meanwhile, ACB Chief Legal and Prosecutions Officer, Victor Chiwala, disclosed in court on Friday when Nair was brought to be formally charged that the bureau would arrest two more people before it starts prosecuting the case.

Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa threw out Nair’s bail application and instead remanded him to Maula Prison where he is expected to stay for the rest of the trial period unless otherwise.

Sattar, who is currently based in the United Kingdom where he was arrested and granted bail, is also facing an investigation by that country’s National Crime Agency on allegations of corrupt dealings with the government of Malawi.

Recently, ACB restricted the Ministry of Lands from dealing with 86 properties in which it is believed that Sattar has beneficial interest.

The restriction was reportedly part of investigations by the bureau following allegations that Sattar and Nair have been giving bribes to politically exposed persons to influence various government departments to corruptly award contracts to companies belonging to the former.

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