Court Reserves Ruling on Chuzuma Judicial Review Case
The High Court in Lilongwe has reserved its ruling on a judicial review case involving Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma over a leaked phone conversation with an unknown person to a later date.
Chizuma applied to the High Court to review a Mzuzu Magistrate Court’s decision arguing it is abuse of court process and a waste of time to start proceedings on a case that was already dismissed twice by other courts.
Mzuzu Senior Resident Magistrate Godfrey Nyirenda in his ruling on a case filed by Frighton Phompho ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and police to investigate the leaked audio and determine whether there was a case to prosecute or not.
In a court session held in camera on Monday morning, High Court Judge Annabel Mtalimanja heard the judicial review application where affidavits filed in support of the application for review by six people namely Chizuma, her lawyer Martha Kaukonde, Frighton Phompho, two other people from Chikwawa and lawyer Wesley Mwafulira from Mzuzu were presented.
Kaukonde told us her client wants the case to be dismissed.
Said Kaukonde, “the application before the Mzuzu Magistrates court is an abuse of court process because it was already presented in the Magistrates court in Lilongwe where it was dismissed before another was filed at Blantyre Magistrates court where it was also dismissed.”
But lawyer representing Frighton Phompho, Michael Goba Chipeta argues that the complaints that were earlier dismissed are different from a complaint lodged by his client and that the judicial review case is premature.
“Our argument is that the complainants in the cases dismissed in Lilongwe and Blantyre are not one and the same with Phompho, they are totally different complainants therefore the rulings in those cases do not bind Mr. Phompho and do not prevent him from lodging his own complaint.” Said Goba Chipeta.
He further argued that if the issue is about abuse of court process, the magistrate court has powers under the law to determine issues related to abuse of court process. He therefore wondered why instead of making the application in the lower court, Chizuma jumped gun to lodge a complaint in the High Court.
Goba Chipeta also told us it is surprising that Chizuma filed the case in the high court in Lilongwe and not in Mzuzu.
“The Magistrate court which heard my client’s case in Mzuzu is in the same building with the High Court, why did she not file the judicial review case there?”
The court also dismissed an application to cross-examine those that filed affidavits in the case on the basis that it would turn the review into a trial.
The ACB boss Chizuma came under fire when she disclosed to a yet to be identified man, ongoing investigations by the Bureau on corruption suspect Zunneth Sattar in a leaked phone conversation which was widely shared on social media.