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Lucius Banda arrested
by Gedion Munthali, 03 November 2005 - 04:24:17
Police in Balaka Wednesday evening arrested Balaka North MP Lucius Banda (UDF) on allegations that he presented to the Malawi Electoral Commission a forged Malawi Schools Certificate of Education (MSCE) to participate in the 2004 parliamentary elections.
Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka confirmed the development, saying the arrest was effected following a complaint from the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) about a certificate problem.
"It is true that we have picked him. We received a complaint from Maneb and we have acted on it," said Mwaluka. "For the other details, I think you can call me tomorrow because the arrest has just been effected."
An eye witness said Banda, who is already facing a suit at the High Court in Lilongwe that he should be disqualified as an MP on the same allegations, was arrested around 1600GMT at his Zembani Lodge in the heart of Balaka Township.
The source said he was picked by undercover policemen and driven off in a black Land Cruiser pick up.
"Only one police officer was in uniform, the rest were in civilian clothes," said the witness. "It is those in civilian clothes who entered the compound and came out with him."
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ishmail Wadi said he was not aware of the arrest but indicated Banda would likely be charged with forgery.
"Forgery is quite a serious offence as it carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment," he said. "But I am not aware of the arrest because this matter is being handled directly by police."
Banda is already scheduled to appear before the High Court in Lilongwe on November 10, 2005 regarding an application by Foreign Affairs Minister Davis Katsonga that the UDF MP should lose his seat, and that his motion to put in place impeachment procedures, should declared null and void.
In his affidavit, Katsonga says he has advanced the complaint now "that it has transpired that the 1st defendant did not qualify to be an MP as he presented a fake MSCE certificate as his evidence of ability to write and read English. There is now produced and shown to me a true copy of a bundle of documents proving the falsity of the 1st defendant's MSCE certificate exhibited herein and marked as DK1."
Supporting the application is a copy of the said fake certificate. Banda appears as Lucius Chicco Banda. He is purported to have sat for seven subjects, and got the following grades: Agriculture 7; Biology 6; Chichewa 2; English 4; Geography 7; History 7 and Mathematics 6. The certificate number is 1951/91 and the examination number is 11/015. The certificate is dated June 1991.
A statement to the police by Balaka District Commissioner Atanazio Gabriel Chibwana, who was returning officer for the district in the 2004 elections, confirms Banda presented to him this certificate.
"In Balaka District one of the person presented his certificate number 1951/91 with an examination number 11/015. All the nomination papers were delivered to the Malawi Electoral Commission...Whether the certificate presented by Hon. Lucius Banda was genuine can best be explained by Malawi Examinations Board (Maneb) because they are the ones who are responsible for awarding MSCE certificate," said Chibwana.
However, a letter from Maneb Executive Director Mathews Matemba to Eastern Region Police Commissioner says the certificate in question was forged.
"I am writing to confirm that we have checked the authentication of the attached MSCE certificate number 1951/91 said to belong to a Mr Lucius Chicco Banda. It is a forged certificate," said Matemba.
"Our records show that Mr Lucius C. Banda wrote the Malawi School Certificate Examinations in 1991 at Bilira DEC in Ntcheu. He was candidate number 96/015. He failed the examination. He got the following grades: Bible Knowledge 9; Biology 9, Chichewa 7; Commerce 9; English 7 and Geography 9," said Matemba.
This information is corroborated by 1991 MSCE Examination Results Sheet and Bilira Secondary School Acting Headmistress Ruth Sophie Mankhamba.
"On the MSCE certificate you presented to us for verification, the candidate number 11/015 belonged to a lady candidate in the name of Zione Precious Mangwiro who withdrew from her 1991 MSCE at Chiradzulu Secondary," wrote Matemba. Chiradzulu Secondary School Deputy Headmaster Lucky Tembo confirmed this information.
Matemba went on: "However the certificate number 1951/91 on this certificate was awarded to Alfred Blessings Mandala who sat for his 1991 MSCE at Mangochi Secondary School as candidate number 34/044. He passed his MSCE examinations and scored as follows: Bible Knowledge 9; Chichewa 7; English 7; General Science 6; Geography 7; History 6; Mathematics 5."
This information was ascertained by Mangochi Secondary School Deputy Headmaster Eustace Kuzemba.
"This is therefore to confirm that according to our records Mr Lucius C. Banda does not possess any MSCE certificate. What he presented is a forged MSCE certificate," said Matemba to the Police Commissioner.
As we went to press last evening, it was reported that Lucius Banda supporters were protesting the arrest.