Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda says government will not pay a K600 million claim of former Ambassador to Japan John Chikago.
The former ambassador is demanding as compensation for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, loss of income, loss of employment opportunity, humiliation and loss of reputation.
Chikago’s claim followed his arrest and prosecution between 2006 and 2009 in a case where the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) accused him of abusing office when he was ambassador to Japan and and buying a Nissan Safari station wagon worth $54 565.00 (about K46 million) for former president Bakili Muluzi.
In a letter dated March 28 2022, Nyirenda has also asked Chikago to pay back the money within 14 days or face legal action.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, Chikago said he does not understand what the AG is up to.
He said: “I was discharged from wrongdoing and I have the judgement to back this up. If the AG wants to dispute his, he must go to court and not making these demands.”
Justice Healey Potani discharged Chikago from criminal proceedings.
After the discharge in 2015, Chikago went to court to seek compensation for his arrest, false imprisonment and loss of reputation among other grounds. But in his judgement in 2017, High Court Judge Rowland Mbvundula dismissed Chikago’s claim for compensation on the basis that his discharge was on account of the voluntary offer to be a State witness.
Reads the judgement: “Having found no wrongdoing on the part of the ACB as regards the claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, Dr. Chikago’s consequential claims for loss of reputation, loss of income, loss of employment opportunities and special damages cannot justifiably be upheld. They equally fail.”
In an interview, Nyirenda confirmed writing Chikago and expressed surprise that Chikago is seeking compensation for a case that was dismissed.
In his letter, he said that he has carefully examined the two judgments and holds the view that Chikago’s discharge was precipitated by a plea bargaining agreement to discharge him from criminal proceedings and turn himself into a State witness against Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
The AG contends that the discharge was, at the time, not a barter to any subsequent proceedings against Chikago based on the same facts.
Reads the letter: “By your own admission, contained in your letter, you received the sum of $54 565.00 in your official capacity as Malawian Ambassador in Japan. Furthermore, by your own admission availed in your 13th January, 2022 letter, you used this money to buy a Nissan Safari station wagon for the former President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Bakili Muluzi.
“Your view, availed in your letter, that it was your job, as an ambassador, to carry out instructions that required you to divert government resources to individual use leaves a lot to be desired. Your invitation for an amnesty on the Muluzi case which links to yours is out of order and without a welcome foundation.”
The AG indicates that documents he has show that Treasury remitted the sum of $54 565 into the Malawi Embassy Bank Account in Japan which Chikago transferred into his personal account and subsequently transferred the said money into Nissan Corporation Japan account to buy the Nissan Safari station wagon.
The AG indicated that Chikago had committed the offence of abuse of office and theft by public servant.
But Chikago claimed he has not seen the letter, adding that he is surprised that the AG is after him for something that was sorted out in court.
He said if anything, the AG must pursue Muluzi who owns the car.
Said the former envoy: “Muluzi is at BCA Hill [his Blantyre residence]. He is not dead, he can go there and get the car, sell it and recover the money. It is not my car. Why should I pay the money as if it is my car?
Meanwhile, Nyirenda has also refused to compensate former president Peter Mutharika’s security aide Norman Chisale K500 million in an attempted murder case he was acquitted.