Malawi Law Society Urges ACB to Swiftly Act On Judges Bribery Allegation - 'Make Arrests'

Malawian Kwacha (file photo).
13 January 2020

The Malawi Law Society (MLS) has asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to swiftly investigate into allegations that some individuals attempted to bribe the five-member panel of High Court

MLS has since called for the immediate arrest of the suspects whom the graft busting body is yet to identify.

The MLS statement, signed by its president Burton Chidongondo Mhango and honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde, follows an ACB confirmation that Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda lodged a formal complaint to the bureau that there were attempts to bribe two of the five judges.

The ACB has kept names of the suspects under wraps.

In its letter addressed to ACB director general Reyneck Matemba, the Law Society says it has learnt with grave concern allegations of attempts to corrupt judicial officers handling the Constitutional case Reference Number 1 of 2019.

"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," reads the letter from Law Society.

MLS states that the ACB should therefore investigate and prosecute all suspects on issues of attempts to bribe judicial officers.

"As you may be aware, the Law Society in line with its mandate under section 64 of the Legal Education and Legal Practitioners Act has a public duty to protect and assist the public in Malawi on all matters touching, ancillary or incidental to the law and given the inviolable moral and legal necessity of the judiciary and its role in society, any attempt to severely threaten or undermine rule of law, good governance and subverting delivery of justice through corruption, will be seriously resisted," reads the letter in part.

The Law Society therefore condemns the alleged acts in fullest measure and calls upon the ACB to strictly execute its core duty to adequately handle the matter and ensure that the outcome of the elections case and any other cases before the judiciary are not affected by such acts and that the judiciary performs all its professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

"Considering that there have been in the past allegations of corruption in the judiciary, this report on the alleged acts demonstrates the efforts being taken on the part of the judiciary to fight corruption in the judicial system and such acts can only be commended by bringing those involved in corruption to book."

MLS says failure to act on the issue has the serious potential to affect all operations of law enforcement agencies, thereby creating a recipe for loss of public trust.

The Constitutional Court has until February to determine the case in which Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and UTM Party's Saulos Chilima are disputing the President Peter Mutharika re-election in May 2019 polls.

High Court of Malawi judges Healey Potani, Ivy Kamanga, Dingiswayo Madise, Redson Kapindu and Mike Tembo make up the five-judge Constitutional Court panel hearing the case.

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