The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), covered by hordes of heavily armed policemen, on Thursday simultaneously raided former head of state Bakili Muluzi’s residences —BCA in Limbe, Area 43 in Lilongwe and Kapoloma in Machinga— and went away with assorted items including computers, bank cheques and bank instructions as part of the information gathering against the former Malawi leader.
ACB director Gustave Kaliwo said in an interview his organisation wanted the information in relation to the K1.4 billion Muluzi is alleged to have received from donor countries, foreign organisations and local private firms, and deposited into a personal account during his ten-year tenure of office.
Kaliwo explained they took the move after Muluzi obtained a court injunction stopping his appearance at the ACB offices on Monday where he was expected to answer questions and produce original documents or certified true copies of documents in his possession or under his control in respect of transactions he had with the Republic of China, Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco and some foreign organisations (name withheld).
“We have got the information we wanted. We wanted to secure it because we were scared it would be hidden or destroyed. We will now analyse it,” boasted Kaliwo. “Give me the next few weeks, and you will see how I will move.”
Muluzi’s lawyer David Kanyenda—who witnessed the full length of the search at BCA— said the exercise started around 9am and ended around 2pm. He said 14 officers — seven each from the ACB and police carried out the search, after showing a search warrant obtained at the Lilongwe Magistrate Court on Wednesday. The warrant, he said, did not specify the kind of information they were looking for.
“But they looked at diaries, letters, computers, bank statements, used cheques, and they have taken a few of them,” he said.
In Lilongwe, Muluzi’s son Atupele said about 16 officers raided the Area 43 residence around 9am and went away with a variety of documents.
Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said the police officers were only covering the ACB officers but were not involved in the actual search.
Kanyenda lamented that the ACB’s move was reactionary, borne out of desperation and frustration that Muluzi got an injunction not to appear before the bureau, and that he has never provided the information the corruption-busting body has been looking for on other matters.
“The ACB has the mandate to investigate and prosecute, but not to intimidate, harass and embarrass our client. What they have done today is to circumvent the injunction by going to a lower court to get a search warrant, when the court order (injunction) was issued by a higher court,” lamented Kanyenda. “This is interference with the privacy of my client, at best.”
But Kaliwo argued that the ACB went to the lower court because section 15 of the Corrupt Practices Act backs such action. He added that his institution obtained the search warrant in line with Muluzi’s own argument — in the affidavit that led to the injunction — that the Bureau had the state machinery and the law at its disposal to get the information it required, other than by summoning him.
“As regards the other remarks that Mr Kanyenda has made, I am of the view that when my learned friend acquires more experience at the bar, he will appreciate that there are certain courtesies in the legal profession. I think he is a young man to engage him in a discussion on whether or not the ACB was right to do what we have done.”
UDF deputy publicity secretary Mary Kaphwereza Banda accused President Bingu wa Mutharika of using the ACB to harass and embarrass the former head of state.
But Kaliwo hit back: “Those are senseless statements. Searches are routine exercises. Even Muluzi presided over the search of the first head of state late Kamuzu Banda. Was he harassing him then?”
story The Nation