Anthony Chai Baya is a well-known man in the corridors of justice across the Coast. He came into the limelight early this year when he attempted to bail out the jailed drug baron Swaleh Yussuf Ahmed, who is accused of smuggling the biggest heroin haul into the country.
Mr Baya, who is still being pursued by detectives for conspiracy to steal title deeds in a Malindi court, is a well-connected man and very “useful” in securing freedom for offenders charged in court with serious offences.
His role, according to the police and the prosecution, is to obtain title deeds to secure freedom for suspects. This, however, comes at a price because it involves a lot of negotiations with title-deed owners.
The arrangement is that Mr Baya agrees to secure the release of an accused person at a negotiated price using a borrowed title deed. He has perfected the art of doing this business, with the elderly being most of his victims.
The police say the man gets good money out of this business, but pays his victims peanuts.
These revelations came to light during the hearing of a case in which two Malindi Court clerks are accused of conspiring with Mr Baya to have Mr Ahmed released from prison.
The clerks, Roba Jarsan Jara and Driscillah Wanjala Mwamburi, allegedly conspired with Mr Baya and others to have title deeds deposited in Malindi as securities in a Mombasa court for the release of Ahmed, who was slapped with a Sh25 million bond.
The three title deeds had been used to set free businessmen Aweys Ahmed Mohamed, Zein Ahmed Mohamed and James Mwangi Muturi, who are accused of forging documents to defraud the late Mombasa business tycoon Tahir Sheikh Said (TSS) Sh28 million.
What puzzles the prosecution is how the title deeds that were in safe custody at the Malindi court found themselves in the Mombasa court despite the pending case against the bailed suspects.
The first prosecution witness, Jambo Makupa Yawa, told the court that Mr Baya had approached him to help with some deal, and that he was to get “something” if he agreed to his proposal.
He said he was taken to the Malindi court where he bailed out Mr Muturi. He was paid Sh10,000 after successfully bailing out the fraud suspect, though he admitted he had not known him before. He was also not aware of the amount Mr Baya had pocketed, though he suspected it was good money.
As usual, the title deed was deposited in court pending hearing and determination of the fraud case.
“After a while, Mr Baya came to me again. He said there was a similar job that needed to be done in Mombasa and the reward would be higher compared to the first one,” he told Mombasa principal magistrate Edgar Kagoni. The old man said Baya told him that he should not worry since the Malindi case had been concluded, when actually the case was still pending, and that his title document was free.
Mr Yawa told the court that he was surprised that the man (Baya) went to him with the title deed, so he believed his earlier assertion that the Malindi case against Mr Muturi had been concluded and his title deed released.
“When I heard this, I agreed to his proposal and we came to Mombasa to present the title deed. I was then told by the clerks in Mombasa that the document must be verified before use,” he said.
He said it was during the verification process that he was arrested by detectives, recorded a statement and released after being instructed to appear in court as witness when called upon.
Mr Yawa, who is in his 70s, told the court that the title deed belonged to his father and that he had not transferred ownership to his name.
Another witness, Mr Mohamed Jamal, said Mr Baya had paid him Sh20,000 when he offered his title deed to secure the release of a suspect in Malindi.
He said he met Baya in the court corridors and asked him to assist in bailing out Mr Ahmed and promised a higher pay but he said his title deed was already deposited in court.
“Days later, I received a phone call from Baya that my title deed was ready for collection. He said the Malindi case had been concluded and that I was free to collect the document,” he said
When he met Baya the following day, the man showed him the title document; he had successfully obtained it from the court. He then informed the old man that he needed his help to have the document used as security to release Mr Ahmed.
The title deed had been used as security for Mr Mohamed.
“I don’t know Mr Ahmed in person. Baya promised that he would pay me Sh25,000 if the deal went as planned. However, that didn’t happen because we were arrested while in the process of verification of the title documents,” he said.
Mr Jamal added the police informed him that the title was fraudulently obtained and that it was not true that the Malindi cases had been concluded.
“I was doing it to get money. It was not the first time to use the title to secure freedom for suspects. Baya didn’t explain to me how he got my title deed from the court but just said that the case in Malindi had been concluded,” he said.
Detectives have intensified their pursuit of Mr Baya, with reports indicating he has several pending cases in various courts and is behind a syndicate operating in courts where a single title deed or document is used to bail out several suspects.
The hearing on conspiracy case proceeds on August 30.