Some of the National Registration Bureau (NRB) officers who were arrested on Sunday last week are demanding K140 million in damages from Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Grace Chiumia, for getting them arrested.
Chiumia allegedly ordered police to arrest the officers on suspicion that they were planning to stage a strike and leak registration information in protest against unpaid allowances.
In a letter filed by their lawyer Christon Ghambi which has also been addressed to the Attorney General in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama, 14 officers accuse Chiumia of subjecting them to physical and psychological torture.
They further complain of unjustified assault, false imprisonment and unwarranted arrest and have thus given the Cabinent minister up to three months to honour the demands failing which legal proceedings would follow.
“It has to be emphasised that the arrest of our clients herein was not in any way effected after an independent investigation by the police but it was a clear act of arrest upon the insistence of the honourable minister. This clearly amounts to…a blatant affront to the independence of the police in the execution of their duties …” reads part of the letter.
In the letter, Ghambi indicates that, while in custody, his clients were denied food and any form of communication with the outside world, which, he says, amounts to inhumane treatment and is a clear violation of the country’s Constitution.
“It was wrong for police to act on a political instruction and the minister acted in personal capacity but using her ministerial powers, hence our intent to sue the Attorney General and the police as well,” Ghambi said in a telephone interview Sunday.
He disclosed that the letter was submitted to Chiumia on Saturday
The demand, according to the legal counsel, is in line with Section 4 of the Civil Procedure [suits by or against the government or public officers (Cap 6:01).
When we sought her reaction, Chiumia did not pick our call on several attempts.
But Minister of Justice, Samuel Tembenu, said he is yet to understand the circumstances that led to the arrest of Rudolf Kachapila and 13 others, saying information he has is that from the media.
“I have not seen the letter and have had no briefing on what transpired; so, cannot really, comment,” Tembenu said.
On September 17, Chiumia bumped into the NRB officers in an informal gathering at a shopping mall in Mzuzu-allegedly discussing a number of issues affecting their work.
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