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ACC accused of abusing its power

2020-03-02  Maria Amakali

ACC accused of abusing its power

The lawyers, who are instructing a South African advocate in an urgent court application matter involving former cabinet minister Bernhard Esau and his co-accused in the unfolding Fishrot scandal, have accused the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of abusing its power and acting above the law. 

In a press statement issued last week, Lucius Murorua of MKK Inc. Attorneys said the manner in which the officials from the ACC served Tembeka Ngcukaitobi with a summons was intimidating, disgraceful and tantamount to abuse of power. Ngcukaitobi is representing Namibia’s former fisheries minister Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and his co-accused in their bid to have their warrants of arrest declared unlawful. 

“The conduct of Mrs Van der Merwe (deputy ACC director general) was disgraceful. It was intimidating. It was a directed at interfering with the counsel’s ability to represent his clients to the best of his ability and, thus, it amounted to an obstruction of justice,” said Murorua. Murorua further said the law firm is calling upon the Namibian nation to demand the resignation of the head of ACC Paulus Noa, as he has allegedly failed to lead the organisation. 

ACC served the Ngcukaitobi with a summons while he was on a court recess at the High Court on Wednesday last week. The anti-graft agency wants Ngcukaitobi to explain why he was reportedly paid N$50 000 in October 2018 by state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor). 
The ACC is currently investigating a fraud case involving N$75.6 million allegedly diverted from Fishcor to various entities between August 2014 and December 2019. 

On Thursday, Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa came to Ngcukaitobi’s defence. He explained that the reported N$50 000 was for his services during the 2018 second national land conference, where he delivered a research paper. The ACC has refused to comment on the government’s reaction and that of the lawyers. 

Contacted for comment, ACC spokesperson Josephine Nghituwamata said the matter is currently being discussed internally on the way forward.
SADC-LA enters fray 

Meanwhile, the SADC-Law Association too shares the same sentiments that lawyers must be allowed to execute their work without fear of intimidation and threats, especially from the same law enforcement agencies whose job is to promote the rule of law. 

“Seeking to link Advocate Ngcukaitobi to the activities of his client is not acceptable and will make it very difficult for lawyers within and from outside Namibia to take up sensitive cases like the one Adv. Ngcukaitobi has undertaken,” said the association. Linking Ngcukaitobi to the allegations of his clients in the absence of evidence is an act perceivably in bad faith and is calculated to intimidate legal counsel and amounts to potential abuse of process and office, said the association. 

The association vowed to engage ACC, the Namibian government, the Law Society of Namibia and other stakeholders to ensure there is no recurrence of this sort and that all interested parties’ work within the realm of the law to mutually uphold the constitution.

2020-03-02  Maria Amakali

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