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Police: We’ll arrest Ali Punjani when he arrives from India

Sunday August 25 2019

Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani

Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani is wanted by police over drug trafficking. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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Wanted suspected drug trafficker Ali Punjani is Monday expected back into the country ahead of his impending arrest by the police.

The businessman is scheduled to jet back through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi at 10.20am.

Mr Punjani’s connecting flight from Nairobi to Mombasa will leave JKIA at 1.30pm and is expected to arrive at 2.30pm, his travel documents obtained by the Sunday Nation indicate.

HEART SURGERY

Mombasa police had said upon his arrival, Mr Punjani will be arrested for interrogation.

“We will arrest him the minute he gets into the country. We want him to come and explain to us where he got all his wealth. We got a lot of cheques, title deeds and more than Sh63,000 from his house during our crackdown,” said outgoing Mombasa police boss Johnston Ipara.

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Mr Ipara, who has since been transferred to Uasin Gishu, had maintained that the businessman remains a drug trafficking suspect as they believe he is directly or indirectly involved in the narcotics trade.

On Saturday, a senior officer from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) reiterated that the tycoon would be arrested.

“We have his travel plans and we will be waiting for him. The war is still on,” said the officer who is not allowed to speak to the media.

New police bosses in the region have, however, opted to remain silent over the matter.

Mr Punjani has been in India for the past three weeks where he underwent an open-heart surgery.

The tycoon was referred to India after a check-up at The Heart Lung Diagnostic Centre in Mombasa.

HOUSE RAIDED

“The above patient (Mr Punjani) was admitted (in Mombasa) on July 29, 2019 following a heart attack/acute coronary syndrome. An angiogram done showed significant CAD with blocked coronary arteries. This is not amenable with angioplasty and he has been advised to undergo coronary artery bypass grafting urgently. This has been arranged at the Asian Heart Institute for next week,” a letter signed by Dr N. Chaudhry of the centre reads.

Reliable sources in India told the Sunday Nation that Mr Punjani was released from Asian Heart Institute Hospital on Thursday last week.

“Punjani has been discharged from the hospital, he is moving towards Sofitel Hotel,” said our source through a WhatsApp text. The source added that the tycoon left the hospital that day at around 4pm and was driven to the five-star hotel accompanied by a woman.

Heart treatment at the hospital costs between $3, 200 to $6,000. Mr Punjani reportedly went through a heart bypass, which is estimated to cost $4,500.

According to a travel document obtained by the Sunday Nation, Mr Punjani flew to India on August 6 on a business class KQ flight.

He flew from Mombasa to Nairobi and connected from Nairobi to Mumbai, India, where he arrived on the same day.

While away, police raided his palatial residence in Nyali suburb where after a long-day search, his Nepalese wife Karki Sushmija, 24 and two other foreigners of Nepalese and Indian descent were arrested.

POLICE CRACKDOWN

The two foreigners included Ms Sushmija’s nephew Bashyal Shiva Prasad and his friend Ram Manoj.

Also arrested were two of Mr Punjani’s house workers — Lucy Njeri Njane and Boniface Maelo.

The five were last week taken to Shanzu court but released by magistrate David Odhiambo after the prosecution sought to close the file for lack of evidence to prefer drugs trafficking charges against them.

The magistrate had ordered the police to release the suspects since the prosecution did not intend to proceed with the case.

Failure by the police to prove cases in the war on drugs, which was relaunched by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, has been cited as among reasons that led to the transfer of the security officers.

During last week’s crackdown, police ransacked Mr Punjani and Bofu Ward Rep Ahmed Salama’s houses. 

Nothing concrete was found during the raids, leading to the release of Mr Salama.

Dr Matiang’i had announced a “painful” war against drug menace and criminal gangs in Mombasa and the Coast at large.

He said drugs trade had been a thorny issue in the region for a long time, adding that the government would move a step further “even if it means  looking among ourselves”.