Attorney General (AG) Charles Mhango has said he will summon Home Affairs Minister Grace Chiumia as well as others to probe circumstances that led to the arrest of 14 National Registration Bureau (NRB) officers in Mzuzu three weeks ago.
Mhango said in an interview that he is ready to independently get to the bottom of the whole story that attracted widespread condemnation from rights groups and the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions who accused Chiumia of flouting labour laws.
“I need to talk to the minister, I need to talk to all officials, public officers involved in this matter, interview them to get proper facts and respond…,” Mhango said when asked what he planned to do after lawyer for the 14 staffers, Christon Ghambi, wrote him seeking redress.
Ghambi penned the AG demanding K140 million from government in compensation for the illegal arrests.
“I need more evidence, I need more information before I can respond,” Mhango said.
NRB staff have been conducting Malawi’s first-ever identity card registration exercise all over the country but delayed salaries and other unpaid allowances have put the exercise in jeopardy.
The frustrations led to Chiumia to order police to arrest 14 staff members in Mzuzu on suspicion that they were planning to sabotage the exercise in the Northern Region.
The officers spent a night in custody but a court in Mzuzu acquitted them saying that they did not break any law.
Chiumia declined to comment when asked this week about the incident.
Chiumia’s actions attracted the wrath of the Forum for National Development (FND) which asked President Peter Mutharika to discipline the minister.
FND Executive Director, Fryson Chodzi, Thursday welcomed the approach the AG wants to take.
“As FND, we are happy that the government has taken a position to probe Hon. Chiumia. We would expect that the probe will lead to disciplinary action on the minister which we believe would serve as a deterrent to other ministers who want to take the law in their own hands,” Fryson Chodzi said.
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