By Chisomo Phiri
Defence lawyers in the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) fuel contracts award case, have on Thursday asked the Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court in Lilongwe to discharge the accused in the case citing lack of seriousness by the prosecution team.
The accused, former Energy Minister Newton Kambala, former presidential advisor on strategy Chris Chaima Banda and Alliance for Democracy leader Enoch Chihana, were arrested for allegedly attempting to influence the award of fuel supply contracts at the company.
On his part, defence lawyer George Mtchuka Mwale told the court that what ACB is doing as regards to handling of the case portrays serious abuse of rights and lack of seriousness to prosecute the matter.
According to him, the Defense team has been filing notices for ‘mention’ and ACB has not been showing seriousness to have the case return to court.
He said the defense was not supposed to be filing the notices while the Prosecution team (ACB) just sits back.
Mwale also told the court that the defense team was informally informed of the change of presiding Magistrate.
Another defense lawyer Bright Theu also joined Mwale in calls for the accused to be released from court without any further action.
He said ACB has failed to prosecute the case and that this is a mockery of the rule of law.
According to Theu, ACB has shown inability and unwillingness to procure prosecution of the accused persons.
Theu said it is sad to see ACB just sitting back and relaxing on this case while the accused persons cannot do their businesses or travel freely.
Another Defense lawyer Wapona Kita agreed with Theu saying ACB is indeed unable to prosecute the case as seen by their lack of seriousness to have the case return to court.
Initially, the case was being heard by Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa (now High Court Judge) and is now being heard by sitting Chief Resident Magistrate Madalitso Khoswe Chimwaza.
Meanwhile, Chimwaza said she will make her ruling on whether or not the three accused Newton Kambala, Enock Chihana and Chris Chaima should be discharged on 30th June 2023.