Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Former Permanent Secretary sues the Anti Corruption Commission for defamation

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Former Ministry of Higher Education permanent secretary Dr Patrick Nkanza has sued the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for libel after he was prosecuted over corruption allegations for a year.
In his statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Dr Nkanza said on or about May 6, 2022, ACC arrested him on an allegation that during his tenure in office as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education he signed a contract worth K200 million without confirming availability of funds.

He submitted that without reasonable and probable cause, ACC charged him with five other suspects before the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court with the offence of wilful failure to comply with applicable law and procedure contrary to section 34 (2) (b) of the Anti-Corruption Corruption Act no. 3 of 2012 in respect of the FTJ Chiluba University, a contract he was not part of.

Dr Nkanza explained that in a letter dated September 15, 2022 he requested for a meeting prior to the date of trial to communicate his position that he was not connected to the offence as charged and by a letter dated October 10, 2022, the ACC responded to his request and proposed that the meeting be held on October 18, 2022.

On the material date of October 18, 2022 a meeting was held between him and his lawyers and two representative from ACC, where at the meeting his lawyers availed to the ACC evidence that he was wrongly indicted .

He stated that the evidence in question included documents which seemingly indicated that funds for the project were confirmed by the Minister of Finance in parliament during the budget address, among other things.

Dr Nkanza stated that despite his efforts to show the ACC that the charge against him was baseless, frivolous, and vexatious, ACC elected to proceed to prosecute him and the matter was taken to court for almost a year.

He disclosed that he was discharged of the charge by magistrate Davis Chibwili on March 9, 2023, following a successful application by his lawyers .

Dr Nkanza submitted that despite being discharged from the indictment he was made to appear before a different magistrate the following day on March 10, 2023 by ACC and at the hearing thereof ACC withdrew the matter against him.

He now wants an unreserved apology published in the same manner as the publication of the libellous words and a statement by ACC to the public, to the effect that the charges against him were withdrawn.

He is also seeking costs of and incidental to this action and other reliefs which the court may deem just and equitable.This is because, according to him, ACC prosecuted him for a year without conducting proper investigations.

Dr Nkanza said ACC also issued defamatory words after his arrest, specifically in their particulars of offence, which they issued to the media.

He complained that the said words in their ordinary and natural meaning meant and were understood to mean that he personally benefited unscrupulously, and without regard to the law signed contracts worth US$225, 000, 000.00 during the period 2015 and 2017.

By reason of the libellous publication of the words referred to, he argued that he had been seriously injured in his reputation and had been brought into public scandal , odium and contempt.
He also argues that he had been defamed in a sensational manner by ACC as it had known that the allegations were untrue.

Dr Nkanza is therefore, seeking reliefs in form of special damages of K500, 000.00 as legal fees and K50, 000.00 as transportation costs.

13 COMMENTS

  1. The ACC under the New Dawn has been a circus , I guess rushing to sensationalize arrests in the media as they try to prove to HH that they are working. They should be sued so that they learn to work professionally.

    • It has nothing to do with the New Dawn government. It’s all about training of ACC officers, especially on-the-job training to back up their academic and professional training. It’s this training that turns one into a formidable investigator and prosecutor of the corrupt. At director of investigation and director legal services that’s where watertight cases are prepared and taken to court.

  2. I do not think myself that the ACC conducts proper training for its officers before entrusting them with the hard and important work of investigating and prosecuting corruption cases. The unprofessional rush to announce to the press even unconcluded investigations is hurting the image of what should be a key institution in the public sector.

    • They are properly trained but the problem like mentioned above, they want to impress the president, not just HH.. They will go after the president’s perceived enemies without proper reason and with proper knowledge of the cases against that person.

    • I disagree that they’re properly trained. A properly-trained officer would examine the evidence and decline to go to court where insufficient evidence exists. If an officer is facing a situation like that, they would either recommend further investigation or drop the case altogether instead of facing such embarrassment in court.

    • Gunner, our officers lack that integrity. If instructions come to prosecute someone, they will do it even if they don’t have evidence. Remember the leaked audio of then ACC director Khuzwayo insisting that they arrest Dr Chilufya even when there was no case against him?

    • #Gunner … you are missing the point. How many civil servants have resigned on professional principle? Perhaps they need training in this area otherwise they will continue going ukwalola umwela.

  3. Bamudala shacepa indalama shama damages. Minimum should One meter Kwacha and transport times two. kabili mwalebomfya Yango.

  4. It’s just the beginning, GRZ will bleed more money as many victims of the senseless actions of the ACC begin to seek redress. Dr Nkanza is just trying to clear his name otherwise what he’s asking for can’t compensate for the damage that’s been done to his career. This will deter professionals from accepting appointments into the civil service.

    • You’re missing the point Chiza Chirwa. We need an effective ACC as part of our arsenal in the fight to stop Zambia becoming a failed state like Haiti where even the President was killed by an armed gang hired by rich criminals the country was unable to bring to justice. Do you want to live in a country like that?

  5. He needs to sue for more. Let’s see how the judgement will go. It is interesting to note that UPND affiliated members were entering into consent judgments with the AG. They should do the same here.

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