Former presidential aide Allan Ntata, who was dragged to court by President Peter Mutharika for defamation, has engaged lawyer Gustav Kaliwo to defend him.
Mutharika sued Ntata alongside online publication Nyasatimes in July this year following published reports that Mutharika was linked to the K92 billion Cashgate.
The President, through his lawyers, later in August applied to the High Court in Blantyre to allow him to serve the summons to Ntata and Nyasatimes through newspapers on grounds that the two parties were not traceable, a request the court granted.
But Ntata, following media reports about Mutharika’s intention to serve him the summons through newspapers, expressed surprise, arguing that he had been in Malawi for several weeks and at the time the President sued him.
Ntata, a lawyer by profession, said: “I have been all over conducting public lectures and I was surprised by claims that I could not be traced. I feared that failure to serve me with the summons, the court was going to enter a default judgement against me.
“I, therefore, instructed my lawyer, Mr Kaliwo, to write to the lawyers representing the President to advise them that I am available and should deal with him on matters relating to this.”
Kaliwo on Thursday confirmed his engagement by Ntata.
He said he has already written to Mutharika’s lawyers, informing them on instructions he received from his client to represent him in the matter.
Lawyer James Masumbu, who is representing Mutharika in the defamation case in which he wants to be paid damages, confirmed on Wednesday that he received communication from Ntata’s lawyer.
Masumbu said he had the documents ready and he was going to serve them on Ntata through Kaliwo.
The court had earlier agreed with Masumbu that substituted service through The Nation and/or The Daily Times newspapers shall be good and sufficient service of the writ.
The court was to enter judgement without further notice if the respondents [Ntata and Nyasatimes] failed to respond to the newspapers service.
Ntata was legal adviser to the President’s elder brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who ruled the country from 2004 until his death in April 2012.
In a lawsuit filed at the High Court in Blantyre, the President wants a court order to restrain Ntata and Nyasatimes from further publishing the issue of K92 billion Cashgate linked to the Bingu administration.
According to court records, Ntata published an article on Nyasatimes on June 22 this year, alleging that the President is implicated in the K92 billion Cashgate.
Mutharika, in the lawsuit filed by Tembenu, Masumbu & Company, said in their natural and ordinary meaning of the published words, they meant he [the President] is engaged in fraud and corruption.
Mutharika said in pursuant of his case to support the claim for exemplary damages, he would rely on facts that the defendant (Ntata) and the publisher of Nyasatimes based in the United Kingdom, published or caused to be published the said article knowing they were false or reckless, not caring whether they were true or false.