Two weeks ago police in Lilongwe released former presidential special adviser on special duties Pastor Martin Thom without any bail conditions and travelled to India.
Police arrested him following The Nation story, which established that he ‘smuggled’ a Loan Authorisation Bill into Parliament. President Lazarus Chakwera fired him two days later.
In a telephone interview yesterday Thom’s lawyer Sylvester Ayuba James confirmed that his client was allowed to travel without any bail conditions attached.
He explained that initially the police had suggested that Thom should report to police fortnightly on Friday but after negotiations this was put on hold.
Said James: “My client was already scheduled to travel before he was arrested, so we reasoned with the police to allow him to proceed with the trip and activate the bail conditions when he is back in the country. The police allowed us.”
The lawyer said he had not spoken with his client these past six days and could not tell when he was scheduled to return home.
When contacted National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera asked for more time before commenting.
In a Facebook post purportedly from Thom, the former presidential aide dismissed rumours circulating on social media that he had fled the country.
Thom was arrested alongside Ministry of Finance Debt and Aid Management director Nations Msowoya in connection with a probe into the mysterious push of the Bill to the July 9 2021 Order Paper—an outline of business to be tackled in Parliament.
In an earlier interview, executive assistant and State House director of communications Sean Kampondeni said that prior to Thom’s arrest, the President had established that his advisor was involved in an “unsanctioned and undue pressure on independent government institutions”.
In an earlier interview Kadadzera said Thom and Msowoya were arrested for alleged abuse of office and making false documents.
In its August 2 2021 front page, The Nation reported that Bill Number 22 of 2021—which sought to authorise government to borrow 98 360 000 euro (about K93 billion) to finance construction of houses for security agencies such as the Police and Malawi Defence Force—found its way on the Order Paper without the clearance of relevant offices, namely the Office of the Attorney General (AG), Cabinet Committee on Legal Affairs and Ministry of Justice. The Bill was later silently removed after the scandal came to light.
The Nation investigations showed that a presidential aide, by his own off-the-record admission when contacted, pressurised officials at the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance and Parliament to cut corners and have the Bill tabled.
Procedurally, the Office of the AG is supposed to clear every government Bill before it goes to Parliament while Cabinet also approves the same. Neither of this happened.