THE High Court has quashed the warrant of arrest issued by the Chongwe Magistrate’s Court for the arrest of Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, saying the lower court had no power to entertain the complaint brought before it.
According to a ruling on recalling of the matter before the subordinate court delivered by High Court judge Mwila Chitabo, the warrant of arrest was set aside and that purported proceedings in Chongwe were null and void.
Justice Chitabo said a directive was made for the subordinate court to provide the High Court with the record concerning the complaint before it, adding that this was a supervisory act as the High Court wanted to study and determine the correctness, appropriateness or legality of the proceedings before the Chongwe Magistrate’s Court.
“I have since looked at the file and I am satisfied that the accused is ordinarily resident in Lusaka and the alleged offences complained of were committed in Lusaka,” Justice Chitabo said.
He said the Chongwe court had no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.
Justice Chitabo said he granted an ex parte order to stay the warrant of arrest after hearing Mr Nchito’s brother, Nchima, who was representing him at midnight on Tuesday.
“I formed a strong view that this was a fit and proper case to grant an ex parte order for leave for judicial review. The said order was to operate as a stay of the warrant of arrest pending determination of the inter parte summons,” he said.
He noted that the matter commenced with an undated complaint lodged by former deputy minister of Finance Newton Ng’uni submitted to the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court.
Justice Chitabo said Mr Ng’uni made various criminal allegations against Mr Nchito and that the matter was then assigned to principal resident magistrate Aridah Chulu, who recused herself from the matter and that it was later reallocated to magistrate Kenneth Mulife.
He noted that Mr Ng’uni withdrew the complaint before Mr Mulife could deliver his ruling even after hearing Mr Ng’uni’s lawyer to effectuate the complaint.
Mr Nchito argued through his brother, Nchima, who was representing him, that, he (Mutembo) has immunity in respect of acts due to the DPP in the course of his duties in accordance with regulation 26 of the National Prosecution Act.
Mr Nchito contended that there was no complaint preceding the arrest warrant contrary to the criminal procedure code and that the said warrant was issued by a magistrate who is based in Chongwe who, as such, has no jurisdiction.
He added that the said warrant did not indicate the charges against the DPP in line with the law.
And KELVIN CHONGO reports from Chongwe, that earlier Mr Nchito was arrested around 07:00 hours yesterday by Lusaka police officers who handed him over to Chongwe Police Station where he was detained for about three hours.
When he was taken to court, Chongwe resident magistrate Moses Phiri recused himself from the case and sent it back to Lusaka for re-allocation.
Immediately after, Mr Nchito, in the company of Nchima, got onto a vehicle and left.