Palatial. Is the word that best describes the home of Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani who is so connected within the police circles that when his arrest was looming, he suddenly flew for ‘heart operation’ in India.
The home is located atop a cliff and overlooking the Indian Ocean, in the upmarket Nyali. The home can only be accessed through an electrified gate and is guarded 24 hours. The only other exit from the home is a door on the ocean front.
More than 30 police officers participated in the raid on Punjabi’s home attracting the attention of curious neighbors. Inside the compound, were top of the range vehicles, some fitted with bulletproof windows
Punjabi was married to Indian Bollywood actress Kim Sharma for 7 years before he ditched her in 2017 for another woman.
The ongoing operation against the drugs menace follows Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i declaration that a looming “painful period for criminal gangs and drug lords” was abound in the coastal city.
Mr Punjani whose profile reads as ‘businessman’, is among those whose name came up during the ongoing criminal trial of suspected Kenyan drug kingpins in New York.
It is shocking that security bosses at the Coast had assigned him 20 police officers as bodyguards, signalling his immense influence within the national security apparatus.
The businessman was first linked to narcotics by a US embassy dossier that the then Internal Security minister George Saitoti tabled in Parliament about to 10 years ago. Investigations, however, cleared him of the any links with drugs trade before his name resurfaced in an ongoing criminal trial in New York of suspected Kenyan drug barons-Baktash Akasha, Ibrahim Akasha and Indian fugitive Vijay Goswami and Gulam Hussein from Pakistan.
Also in the serious operation sanctioned by Matiang’i said to have keen interest in the matter, police yesterday arrested one of their own in the swoop.
The senior police officer in Lamu is being held by detectives in connection with the release of a massive consignment of drugs that had just been nabbed by officers.
Chief Inspector Shadrack Mumo who is the OCS for the Kizingitini police station is said to have received a Sh50,000 bribe to release the haul and the owner, a wanted drug kingpin in the region.
Mumo is being held at the Lamu police station after he was arrested on Monday morning.
The consignment of narcotic drugs had just been netted at the Mtangawanda Jetty in Lamu East on Sunday dawn while being transported by boat from Lamu Island to Siyu area in Lamu East before police who were acting on a tip off from members of the public intercepted it and recovered the bhang whose value is said to be worth millions.
Sources said the drugs belong to a notorious drug lord who is well known among the police and locals for his activities in the illegal trade.
Once in Siyu,the bhang was to be given to smaller peddlers who would sell it on behalf of the ‘boss.
According to security officers who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the case, the haul was handed to officers at the Kizingitini police station who demanded Sh50,000 bribe before they released it.
“It was a lot of bhang, probably worth several millions. It was taken to Kizingitini police station but we later established, the officers were paid Sh50,000 bribe and they allowed the bhang to enter the villages. These officers need to be probed and prosecuted for frustrating efforts to end the issue of drugs here,” the officer said.
Police in Lamu have been accused numerously of colluding with drug cartels by demanding bribes after which they allow drug masters to conduct their trade as they wish, one that has turned many into zombies.
According to NACADA, over 5000 youth in Lamu are hooked to drugs.
Also nabbed is a member of Mombasa County Assembly (MCA) who was arrested on Monday in connection to drug trafficking.
Bofu Ward Representative Ahmed Salama was arrested in Likoni following the operation targeting politicians and businessmen suspected to be behind narcotics trade.
Interestingly, the MCA is among leaders who attended Dr Matiang’i’s meeting at Uhuru na Kazi in Mombasa.
Mr Salama, alias Bulldozer, recorded a statement at the Likoni Police Station before taking the police officers to his house.
Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara said the politician was arrested following reports that he is involved in drug trafficking.
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