The Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly Tuesday rejected evidence that legislator for Mzimba North Yeremia Chihana tendered to defend his allegation that K30 billion was stolen through Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) fertiliser procurement processes.
Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Aisha Adams said documents that were submitted spoke of the K750 million that is already under probe by the joint parliamentary committee on AIP.
“He brought to the Office of the Speaker some photocopied documents. Having gone through the documents, they do not, in any way, show that K30 billion has disappeared or been stolen. They have been extracted from documents submitted by Ecobank to the joint committee. The office rejects the documents as evidence,” she said.
Chihana made the allegations last week and the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly has been demanding evidence.
The matter resurfaced Tuesday, when Member of Parliament for Thyolo Central Ben Phiri asked the august House to allow Chihana to bring out the demanded evidence.
In the afternoon, Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda moved the House to temporarily adjourn in order to settle the matter.
In her ruling, Adams demanded that Chihana withdraw the statement as the evidence was not admissible.
Chihana, however, refused to withdraw the statement, a development that forced Adams to kick him out until Monday afternoon.
Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda suggested that punishment should be meted out on anyone who misinforms the House, in addition to asking them to withdraw statements.
“Allegations of this nature can be made about any of us and if we are going to condone this behaviour, then all of us will be moving along with unsubstantiated allegations,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Parliament instituted an inquiry into the procurement of fertiliser under AIP after revelations were made that K750 million was paid to a bogus company that had entered into a contract with the government to supply fertiliser.
Stakeholders, including representatives of banks, appeared before the committee as part of the inquiry.
The joint parliamentary committee is yet to release a report on the matter.