Matemba acknowledged official receipt of the complaint by the five judges through a letter authored by Nyirenda and further disclosed that ACB has taken caution statements from the judges on the complaint which, he said, is criminal in nature.
The ACB Director General outright refused to name the two suspects mentioned in the matter except for the fact that “one is a civil servant working in one of the three arms of government while the other works in the private sector.
“We can be sued…,” he said noting that his office and that of the Attorney General had been in such a situation before where someone claimed K70bn in defamation.
“Fortunately, we fought vigorously and they lost the case,” he said stressing the resolve of his office to expedite investigations into the matter at hand by wavering some of the existent “bureaucratic” procedures given the public interest in this case.
According to the ACB, the matter was first brought to his attention on November 28th , 2019 when Chief Justice Nyirenda informed him before officially writing his office on 4th December. Matemba said the Chief Justice has left the rest in his hands.
But while responding to questions from reporters and some lawyers Matemba hinted his office could make arrests before lapse of the 45 days within which the Constitutional Court said would pronounce verdict on the presidential election case.
And when he was given a question on a hypothetical scenario where the constitutional court had given verdict and parties or a party to the presidential election case sought further relief in the supreme court where the judge presumed to have approached the five judges with a bribe, Matemba said “it won’t get that far”.
Our count-down to hitting day 45 of waiting for the ConCourt is at 20 days to go.
While Matemba tried hard to delink the matter from any political party, he conceded that the individuals who allegedly tried to bribe the judges were doing it to get the court’s favor for one of the four parties in the case; President Peter Mutharika, Malawi Electoral Commission, Dr. Saulos Chilima or Dr. Lazarus Chakwera.
The ACB Director General used the public platform to vet his frustrations at how the public perceives his performance saying it appeared people did not appreciate the work he is doing to the extent of trashing and accusing him of being political.
He told reporters that his contract is ending this year and that he has requested that it should not be renewed so that he can return to his original job at the ministry of Justice from where former president Dr. Joyce Banda appointed him ACB Director.
It became apparent that Matemba was using the main media to react largely to social media discussions in which his office was being accused of toying the government line. This was evidenced by the bureaus inviting of lawyers known to be outspoken in social media who were raising serious issues with the manner ACB is operating.
Matemba challenged his critics to bring afore names of members of the opposition in Malawi whom his office had arrested on charges of corruption (as it was being alleged). In reverse, he named about five DPP officials that his office has cases with.
“On the one had the opposition says the burea is biased in its work and on the other, for example, I have whatsapp thresh of DPP symphathizers saying ndikuwasaka. Then where do you place the bureau?
“We have not received our January allocation just like all other government departments. We sometimes have to use our personal resources just to get things going and claim refunds later. This people do not know about,” he said.
In view of the sensitivity of the latest matter under investigations by the ACB, the bureau has issued a security alert to its staff and ensured that security is beefed-up.
ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba, confirmed that there is a link between the beefing-up of security and the complaint lodged by the five High Court judges.
“This is a precautionary measure,” he said almost taking the whole press conference room to the time one of the senior ACB officers, Issa Njaunju, was abducted and later found dead half buried less than a kilometer away from the ACB in Lilongwe.
He has ordered all his staff to vacate the bureau offices by 5:30 each day from now and that should any staff member wish to stay in office longer, they would have to notify their superiors including the Director General himself.
Matemba told journalists that he was equally aware that the five judges, who are away at a secluded place working on the judgment of the case are “under very heavy security and not contactable anyhow” although he was aware where they are.