Mzomera Ngwira case enters cross-appeal
The High Court sitting in Mzuzu City Monday adjourned the appeal case of former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Northern Region governor Christopher Mzomera Ngwira to March 2 2021 due to controversy that arose after Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) lawyers appealed Ngwira’s sentence.
Initially, Ngwira went to court to appeal his sentence, which he regards as excessive.
But, in a twist to the case, there was drama in the courtroom after ACB lawyers also asked the court to look at an earlier appeal they presented to the court in relation to the charge that the Mzimba Magistrates’ Court cleared the ex-DPP official on.
ACB Director of Legal and Prosecution Chrispine Khunga said the charge was to do with obtaining money meant for projects for his own personal use.
“There was another account he was acquitted on; this is the one we are appealing. This is where he obtained money from a project account for his own personal use. The court acquitted him because it was of the view that we, as the State, did not give evidence that indeed the money was put to personal use. That’s the account we are appealing because we are convinced that the money went to him in the first place,” Khunga said.
Khunga said the State was not comfortable with the ruling of the subordinate court, hence its decision to appeal.
He defended the cross-appeal, saying they followed all due processes, including serving the respondent in time, although he said the respondent did not respond.
But Ngwira’s lawyer, Victor Gondwe, described ACB’s appeal as irregular.
“It can no longer come as an appeal in court but rather as a standalone case,” Gondwe said.
Gondwe asked the court to scrape off ACB’s appeal, saying Section 349 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Code demands that people file an appeal notice to the High Court within 10 days after judgement.
“It is even irregular for them to work on a cross appeal because the court already dealt with the first account in July [last year].
“They can only appeal as a matter of law not facts. This is stipulated in Section 52, 346, 347 of the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Code,” Gondwe said.
Judge Chimwemwe Kamowa has, meanwhile, announced that he would make his ruling on March 2 on whether ACB has a standing to appeal the case.
Ngwira’s lawyers also want their client released on bail for easy access to medical attention.
Ngwira is serving a four-year jail term after being found guilty of mismanaging monies meant for Local Development Fund when he was member of Parliament for Mzimba Hora Constituency.