The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it will not name two high profile people alleged to have attempted to bribe judges assigned to the presidential elections case.
Addressing the media in Lilongwe Tuesday, ACB Director Reyneck Matemba, flanked by his deputy, Eliah Bodole, said naming the suspects, at this point, would compromise the investigation.
He said he can only identify them as a “senior official who works for one arm of the government” and another person from the “private sector”.
“We cannot name the suspects for legal reason. The letter to the Chief Justice (Andrew Nyirenda) is not evidence. His purpose was alerting us to investigate. We can’t act on his testimony because it would be hearsay,” he said, citing the risk of being sued for defamation.
He, however, said this decision is not bordering on shielding anyone.
“The judges are people of high moral standing but the Bureau will follow the law to the letter. Due diligence is important in such sensitive cases,” said Matemba.
He also talked of heightened political sensitivity of the matter, urging restraint.
“We’re prosecuting a criminal case, not a political case. Ours is a mandate and if we have evidence, to prosecute. We do not have political interests. We should avoid politicizing this criminal case,” he said.
Matemba, who hinted on his intention to exit the ACB upon expiry of his contract this year, stressed that politics affect operations, especially due to lack of public trust.
He said four (4) complaints have also been received – one (1) from a civil society organization, one (1) from an activist and the rest submitted their complaints anonymously.
The ACB boss said the Chief Justice Nyirenda met him in person on 28th November, 2019.
Matemba said, subsequent to that, a formal letter was sent to the Bureau on 8 December 2019.
The Anti-corruption law empowers the ACB Director to initiate an investigation whenever he has reasonable grounds to believe there was wrong-doing under the Anti-Corruption legislation, Corrupt Practices Act.
Meanwhile, the ACB has been urged to fast-track the prosecution of the yet-to-be-named would-have-been bribers by several stakeholders including the Malawi Law Society (MLS).