Friday, July 27, 2007

Suspend DEC commissioner, Lifuka urges Mwanawasa

Suspend DEC commissioner, Lifuka urges Mwanawasa
By Noel Sichalwe
Thursday July 26, 2007 [04:02]

TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka has called on President Mwanawasa to suspend Drug Enforcement Commissioner Ryan Chitoba and his deputy Jacob Koyi to pave way for investigations into the abuse of authority of office allegations.

TIZ president Reuben Lifuka said yesterday said President Mwanawasa should suspend Chitoba and Koyi to allow the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) conduct their investigations into the allegations professionally.

Lifuka said there were a lot of expectations from Zambians especially that ACC was investigating the head of another law enforcement agency.
"We hope to see ACC move with seriousness and conduct the work professionally," Lifuka said.

"If the ACC can use all the time, the investigations might help in the fight against corruption. We fear that the patriotic DEC officers that have given us this information will be exposed as long as Mr. Chitoba and Mr. Koyi still remain in the office. This is why the President should suspend the two commissioners to pave way for investigations. Let the investigations take place in an atmosphere that does not support suspicions. This is why the ACC need to protect the whistle blowers. We would like the due process of law to take its course. The allegations are serious and they affect an important watchdog like DEC and any delay will have an impact on the whole fight against corruption."

He said the ACC should dispel the perception that it was not moving fast in its investigations on DEC.

Lifuka said TIZ played its role by presenting the allegations to the ACC on behalf of patriotic DEC whistle blowers.
He said ACC should not erode the confidence that people had in the institution by delaying the investigations.
TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu also said ACC should move faster in its investigations and ensure that the employment of various DEC officers was secured.

Lungu said a number of DEC officers presented TIZ with the complaints, which TIZ handed over to ACC for investigations.
He said the allegations had solid documentary evidence of bank statements and vouchers that made the ACC investigations easier.
He said ACC should be seen to be proactive in the matters especially that the issues had reached the media.
Lungu said TIZ was ready to provide the necessary support to ACC in terms of information and the list of properties alleged to have been bought in suspicious ways.

He was however, said TIZ was happy with the feedback they were receiving on the manner investigations were proceeding.
He said the DEC workers did not want to present the complaint to ACC for fear of being identified as whistle blowers.
Lungu said if it would be established that some DEC officers who were been charged for various allegations were whistle blowers, the ACC should find a way of protecting them.

"We seek ACC to move and protect these DEC officers," Lungu said. "We feel a precedent should not be set to see people who raise concerns about malpractices being harassed."
On Tuesday, police spokesperson Bonnie Kapeso said a warn and caution statement had been recorded from assistant DEC commissioner Nason Banda for being in possession of official documents contrary to the State Security Act.

Kapeso said Banda was warned and cautioned together with DEC accountant Oakley Simwiinga on July 20.
He said police also interviewed Chitoba's secretary Lubona Mutakwa but that no statement was taken from her.
And Lusaka lawyer Kelvin Bwalya has complained that his clients were being harassed by police on suspicion that they leaked information relating to the corruption scandals at DEC.

Bwalya complained that police were harassing his clients - Nason Banda, an auditor Francis Ngwenya and Simwiinga for no reason.
He said police had raided the trio's homes with search warrants in their attempt to recover some information or documents relating to the alleged scandals at DEC.
Bwalya said unfortunately, police did not find any tangible documents on the trio but still confiscated their cell phones and laptops.

"This is pure harassment because my clients are innocent," Bwalya said.
He said it was sad that police were intimidating innocent people to shift attention from what was happening at DEC.
However, sources said Chitoba who is a former Central Province commanding officer was using Inspector General of Police to intimidate some DEC officers on suspicions that they were leaking information.

"This is purely to divert the attention from the scandals happening at DEC," the source said.
Chitoba and Koyi are alleged to have been abusing their authority of offices through unretired imprest and questionable promotions.
According to investigations conducted in DEC and according to available documents, Chitoba on December 8, 2006 dubiously obtained a K20 million loan from the DEC revolving fund meant for junior officers' operations.

Sources said in an ideal situation, Chitoba was supposed to get a loan from leaders fund at the Ministry of Finance because of his senior position.

On October 25, 2006 Chitoba further obtained K27.7 million under cheque number 001159 for excess leave days from the money, which was not provided for personal emoluments.
Later on October 2, 2006, he obtained imprest in the amount of K12.5 million for him to travel to Austria for 10 nights but he never traveled and the money was not returned.

Chitoba further on October 3, 2006 obtained about K6 million imprest under cheque number 001084 to travel to Johannesburg but he never went and money was not returned.

Further on March 10, 2007, Chitoba got about K6 million imprest under cheque number 001084, which was not retired. He later obtained imprest amounting to K3.7 million under cheque number 005640 for a trip, which was not undertaken.

He further obtained about K20 million on July 21, 2006 under cheque number 003871 to travel to Botswana but only traveled in October and he never retired the receipts.
For Koyi, On October 25, 2006 he obtained imprest of K10 million under cheque number 007746 for a farmilisarisation tour of Northern Province operations. However, the trip was not undertaken and the money was not retired or refunded.

Later on May 4, 2006 Koyi obtained imprest amounting to K1.4 million under cheque number 0011511 for a local trip but he did not go anywhere and the money was not retired or reimbursed.
Koyi further got an imprest of K1.6 million for a local trip which was never undertaken and the money was not reimbursed. He also got another K1.1 imprest for a local trip to carry out investigations but the activity was never carried out and the money was not reimbursed.
Chitoba and Koyi further allegedly promoted their children working for DEC in strange circumstances.

According to available information, on February 21, 2006 Chitoba appointed his son Brian as an investigations officer.
On May 24th, 2006 DEC chief training officer Beatrice Mpanga nominated Brian to attend the leadership workshop from June 5 to 9, 2006 which was organized by DEC.

After the workshop, Chitoba on June 29, 2006 promoted his son Brian from being an assistant investigations officer to investigations officer.

The promotion came while Brian was still on his probation period.
"I am pleased that in the exercise of powers vested in the Commissioner, Drug Enforcement Commission under section 4(1) of the first schedule to CAP 96 of the Laws of Zambia, I hereby appoint you investigations officer, salary scale PSS/07 with effect from 29th June, 2006," Chitoba stated in a letter of promotion to his own son.

Chitoba again promoted his son on February 21, 2007 as senior investigations officer.
He is also alleged to have appointed Mwelwa Koyi, the son to his deputy Jacob Koyi as office orderly on November 16th, 2006.
According to his job application on April 18th, 2006 Mwelwa applied as an assistant security officer. He completed grade twelve in 2002 at Kabulonga Boys High School after obtaining a General Certificate in Education.

The statement of results for 2002, indicated that the highest grade that Mwelwa got was a credit in English language.
On February 2007, Chitoba questionably appointed Mwelwa to a senior position as assistant security officer and congratulated him for the deserved appointment. He is also alleged to have appointed his wife's sister as his secretary to replace Lubona Mutakwa.
Chitoba is further alleged to have bought a house a house in a dubious way.

According to the loan application form, Ryan Chitoba as deputy commissioner on June 4th 2004 applied for a K100 million house loan from DEC. Chitoba with national registration number 173898/66/1 obtained a loan on pensionable establishment to purchase house number 6857, Olympia Extension in Lusaka.

The house loan was approved by then senior assistant commissioner Sylvester Liywali. The offer of the house along Chainama road was confirmed in a letter from the landlord Reuben Banda to Chitoba on May 13, 2004.

"I am pleased to offer you plot number 6857 Olympia Extension, Chainama Road for sale. The price is K270,000,000 net of tax. Note that the offer and acceptance will constitute part of the agreement for sale of property," Banda wrote to Chitoba.
Informed sources said Chitoba used some money from the DEC to pay for the purchased house.

After buying the house, Chitoba occupied it and leased it to DEC although the cheques for rentals were paid in the name of the Banda who sold him the house.

Further, on December 7th, 2006 Chitoba obtained about K20 million from DEC operations account after disguising it as an application for a household loan and it was later authorized by his deputy Jacob Koyi.

Later on March 23, 2007 Chitoba got another K20 million from the operation account meant for junior officers to conduct their work.
The K20 million loan was under the agreement for household loan. The money was given under voucher number SF/DEC/446.

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