Three people accused of corruptly attempting to influence the National Oil Company of Malawi (Nocma) in the award of fuel import contracts have asked the court to dismiss the charges for lack of clarity.
Former minister of Energy Newton Kambala, former presidential aide Chris Chaima Banda and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Enock Chihana, who were arrested by the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB), appeared before the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
They are accused of allegedly trying to influence a public officer to abuse office in procurement of fuel contrary to Corrupt Practices Act, among others.
Their lawyers argued that the ACB charge sheet lacked clarity and some of the counts do not have necessary details.
In an interview, one of the defence lawyers Khumbo Soko said their clients view the charge sheet, in its present state, as defective such that it cannot be a basis for a valid trial.
He said: “Our clients came for a fresh plea to be taken because the previous charge sheet has been amended by the State.
“Our clients have made a number of observations in the charge sheet. So, we have applied to the court that the charge sheet be thrown out and that our clients be set at liberty.”
But in her submission to the court, ACB director Martha Chizuma expressed surprise that the defence was raising the issues now when ACB filed them in court by October 13 2021.
She said the defence should have raised these issues before the court convened
Chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa agreed that the defence should have raised their concerns earlier and has since reserved his ruling to Monday.
In August this year, the graft-busting body arrested the trio for allegedly influencing the procurement of fuel through Nocma. On August 11 2021, the three were granted court bail.
Following the arrest, President Lazarus Chakwera dismissed both Kambala and Chaima from their positions