Why businessman Paul Kobia and controversy are never far apart

Police officers hold Paul Kobia after he attempted to attack magistrate in a Nairobi court in March, 2017. Kobia claimed he was dragged from hospital to face kidnapping charges. [Standard]
For a man who is reported to have once been a priest in neighbouring Tanzania, Paul Kobia alias Paul Illunga Ngoei is not new to controversy.

The shadowy businessman, with a missing finger on his left hand, claimed to have been chopped off by business rivals, is currently facing fraud charges in a Sh173 million gold scam.

He was arrested during a raid at his house in Nairobi.

During Wednesday’s raid, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officers seized seven gold nuggets, six motor vehicles, a wooden Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) stamp, an ETR machine among others.

Police said a complaint was filed from Dubai where a businessman had allegedly paid 140,000 dollars and the remainder of the amount in local currency.

But this is only an incident among many that have made Kobia and controversy synonyms for almost a decade after his first arrest in 2010.

 In his trademark rants through videos that are released online, Kobia’s run-ins with security agencies have been on and off.

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Issued threats

Even during his Wednesday arrest, he kept on shouting that his political detractors have gotten wind that he wants to run for the presidency and are out to use the police to intimidate him.

“They know I am contesting for the presidency that is why they are following me wherever I go. This is all politics,” the shadowy businessman shouted as he was being led away by police officers.

The arrest came amid another investigation by the DCI over complaint said to have been filed by a member of the royal family in Dubai, in which prominent names, among them Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula were mentioned.

In March 2019, Kobia came out warning those he alleged were insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta. In a video that went viral, the businessman was seen driving into an unidentified compound and after alighting from his car went ahead to rant and threaten the individuals.

 He said if they didn’t stop, he was going to personally discipline anyone disrespecting the president. He said he was the fourth in command after Uhuru, William Ruto, and Opposition chief Raila Odinga.

In January 2019, a video of Kobia addressing the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge also went viral.

In the video, Kobia dismissed the CBK Governor over his move to tighten rules on depositing large sums of money, saying the move will stifle the county’s economic growth.

“I have nothing personal against the CBK Governor. However, it would be important if they (CBK) would loosen the noose on the tough rules they have created for transacting; large sums of money,” Kobia ranted.

“Kenya is a fast growing economy. It is so easy to make Sh1 million in a day these days, yet the banks are now questioning everything about your source of cash.”

Kobia complained in the video that he had millions of shillings in Asia that he wanted to bring home but the rules were making it impossible.

In August 2018, Kobia allegedly threatened President Uhuru’s private secretary Jomo Gecaga asking him never to step foot in Meru for allegedly blocking him from accessing State House.

In an emotional rant captured on video, Kobia fumed that he had spent huge resources in the election of President Uhuru and was surprised that Gecaga would block him from accessing State House.

Businessman Paul Kobia poses with one of his many cars. [Courtesy]
“Do not dare step in Meru, I am the commander in chief of the Merus and I am warning you to stay alert,” the businessman warned.

The businessman claimed he wanted to meet President Uhuru to help sort out some party issues in Meru County.

In March 2017,  Kobia was arrested and arraigned for assaulting a Congolese man identified as Blanchard Londole in  Kilimani, Nairobi.

Police said Kobia abducted Londole and assaulted him claiming that he owed him Sh40 million.

Named in a UN report on gold scam

When the businessman appeared in court over the assault charges, Kobia started screaming and shouting demanding that he be freed to seek treatment.

In 2015, Kobia made national headlines after reports went round that he had confessed to killing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s son Fidel.

The reports were later dismissed by the police who clarified that Kobia was receiving psychiatric treatment.

In September 2014, after bragging that he would teach Raila a lesson Kobia was stopped by Raila’s bodyguards after he tried to storm a city hotel where the ODM leader was having lunch.

In  November 2011 Kobia was mentioned in a 392-page UN report on gold smuggling.

In 2010, he was arrested and charged with pretending to sell 825kg of gold and obtaining Sh17.4 million from a South African identified as Dennis Ray.

Police officers have confiscated three different guns from him in three incidents.

The businessman has hinted he will run for the presidency in 2022.

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Paul KobiaDirectorate of Criminal InvestigationsDubaiAssaultGold Scam