Malawi Law Society (MLS) has urged Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) ‘to execute its statutory mandate promptly’ by making arrests following reports that some people wanted to bribe judges handling the presidential election case.
MLS’s call comes after ACB Director, Reyneck Matemba, admitted to have received a complaint from Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda that some people wanted to bribe the judges late last month.
MLS has made the call to Matemba, through a statement issued by the society’s Chairperson Burton Mhango and Honorary Secretary Martha Kaukonde, Monday.
“We would like to commend the Chief Justice and the Judiciary for reporting the alleged crimes to the ACB. We strongly believe the ACB will act accordingly and expeditiously given the public importance of the matter.
“The fact that the report made by the Chief Justice was made promptly should also help the ACB to handle the matter urgently as it is also at the core of the rule of law.
Any attempt to bribe judicial officers results in erosion of public trust in the role of the judiciary in ensuring there is law and order and rule of law in the country,” the statement reads.
Matemba Monday assured that they started investigating the matter soon after receiving the complaint.
“Unfortunately, we cannot reveal the names of the people that have been complained against for fear of jeorpadising our investigations. It will be difficult for us to provide any timelines for investigations.
“Suffice it to say that we are very mindful of the fact that these matters have generated, and indeed, continue to generate, a lot of public interest, both locally and internationally. We will, therefore, strive to conclude the investigations within the shortest possible time,” Matemba said.
The panel of judges Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Mike Tembo, Dingiswayo Madise and Redson Kapindu are expected to deliver a verdict in the case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM leader Saulos Chilima are challenging the May 21 presidential election results saying they were marred by irregulaties.
Petitioners Chakwera and Chilima want the court to nullify the results which saw Malawi Electoral Commission declaring Peter Mutharika the winner of the presidential race by 38 percent followed by the MCP leader on second place by 35 percent and the UTM president on 20 percent.
The judges will deliver the verdict within 45 days from December 21 2019 when all parties finished making their submissions.
In view of the profile of the case, MLS has urged ACB to “execute its statutory mandate promptly.
MLS has warned that “failure to act has the serious potential to affect all operations of law enforcement agencies creating recipe for loss of public trust.”
“ACB, as a law enforcement agency, is expected to make the necessary investigations and arrests immediately. Public trust in the ACB lies in how it handles, to logical conclusion, high profile cases like the one at hand.
“Any attempts to subvert the course of justice for whatever reason would result in untold effects on future cases and attempts to fight cases of corruption. The ACB should, therefore, investigate and prosecute all suspects on issues of attempts to bribe judicial officers,” the statement adds.
MLS also released a statement last week expressing reservations with the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU-EOM) intention to release a report pertaining to the elections.
MLS raised concerns that the report would jeopardise.