By Deus Chikalaza
Most of the former classmates of the Queens Bench are land practitioners working in various land-related departments. Remember the Queens Bench Chairman is primarily a Land Surveyor (a very good one for that matter). One of these recent days, I was having a VODKA drink with some of them when they brought up an issue. A very interesting issue. It may interest you as well:
“Kodi QB, zama investigations zi mukuti zimayenda bwanji kwenikweni? Do you know that nkhani ya Kezzie Msukwa ma investigators a ACB anabwera ku office after he was arrested and they turned out surprised kuti land yomwe ikunenedwa ija inapelekedwa kwa Sattar in 2016 and the title did was issued a year and months later? Ndangoyiwala the exact dates koma tikanakhala ku office ndikanapanga check.
“And the surprising part is that when they were told kuti land inapelekedwa that period, they seemed confused and they kept asking if there was no recent processing of the same land. That question was confusing to us now.”
The Queens Bench found the story particularly interesting. I narrated my understanding that it appears the ACB acted on information that was obtained from the National Crimes Agency (NCA) – an ACB equivalent from United Kingdom.
I explained how the State may obtain or give any criminal matter evidence under investigations to or from any Commonwealth country under what mutual legal assistance scheme. There is what is called Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act that was enacted in 1991.
But according to the said Act, any (Commonwealth) country, such as United Kingdom in this case, seeking to obtain evidence from Malawi must approach the Attorney General who, in turn, if he judges it appropriate to cooperate, instructs any relevant local law enforcement agency such as the police, ACB, NIS, etc to cooperate with the foreign investigators in receiving or giving out any sought information material to the pursued investigations.
With the Sattar investigations, I told my colleagues, the NCA went directly to the law enforcement agency – that is the ACB – and requested its cooperation in investigations that resulted in combing Sattar’s home and office while he was arrested in the United Kingdom. The ACB, without informing or seeking an endorsement from the Attorney General rendered the cooperation and received or accessed copies of the documents of records that were seized in the raid.
Now, the rules of evidence are very clear when it comes to evidence that is obtained illegally. The ACB, having possessed such evidence that was obtained illegally, interpreted the evidence without prudence and formed an idea that Kezzie Msuka, as a Minister, corruptly awarded the land to Sattar to gain a Mercedes Benz advantage YET the said land was, according to what you are telling me, issued in 2016 when the said Kezzie Msukwa was not a Minister or anywhere near land administration protocol. That aspect constitutes an aspect of material fact that will haunt the ACB in its exercise of prosecuting its target.
Further, I said, ACB looks funny in this case when one looks at it from the totality of its actions: To begin with, the ACB, using misleading or misunderstood records obtained illegally, arrested the said Msukwa while he was at a hospital receiving treatment for heart attack which it is said occurred after receiving news from ACB that there was a warrant of arrest obtained against him. Perhaps in an appetite to showcase some amazing power, the ACB followed the Minister to the hospital, handcuffed him and chained him to a hospital bed.
I then explained to my colleagues how such treatment of a suspect is inhumane, barbaric and against the words of our Constitution. I told them, for example, how section 42(1) of the Constitution was offended and how section 20A (1)and(2) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Code were violated by such extraneous actions that were merely serving the purpose of embarrassing the target than preventing him from an escape (because they can’t demonstrate that the suspect was reasonably feared that he would escape).
I discussed quite a lot on this matter and now because I am rushing to a class, I will share the rest of the discussions later. But I must admit that I left my colleagues in total silence and confusion as to what the ACB was really up to towards the embattled Minister.