They are super rich, but the billions can't afford them peace
SEE ALSO :Kidero: I didn't seek out-of-court dealMr Kariuki has also recently stepped down as chair of the board of the Janus group and its associate businesses. For a big part of his adult life, few people would pick out Jimmy Wanjigi from a crowd of fun loving Kenyans. But as the 2017 presidential election approached, Wanjigi put aside his shroud of secrecy and became a rather constant figure at NASA political functions. His visibility came at a cost though and from the relative anonymity of his life, Wanjigi found himself under the glare of the state’s spotlight. And like Punjani, his home in Nairobi’s affluent Muthaiga Estate was the setting for a scene of government might against a man who can be described as a dyed-in-the-wool insider. On Saturday May 6, 2016, Wanjigi burst onto the scene after the death of former rubblerouser Jacob Juma, who was shot on his way home along Nairobi’s Ngong Road. At the time, Jimmy was an unfamiliar face to many Kenyans. Juma, a controversial businessman, had in his final days become a fierce government critic, tearing into Jubilee’s mega ambitions of prosperity and in constant communication with Wanjigi about the Eurobond saga, exchanging new information about goings-on at the National Treasury and the Central Bank. One of the last people he was in touch with by phone hours before his death was Wanjigi. This might explain the businessman’s grief and shock over Juma’s murder. But also, both men had an axe to grind with the government. Received letter In October 2017, a house associated Wanjigi was raided in a seven-hour operation. Detectives also broke into his Muthaiga home in a 30-hour siege, seizing six licensed guns. In February 2018, at the height of an election crisis, he told the press that he had received a letter from the Firearms Licensing Board asking him to surrender his weapons and bullets. The orders coming from a regime he had supported and helped fund just five years earlier. Thawing political temperatures have benefited him a great deal. The handshake between his friends Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta gave him some respite. Also in the state’s crosshairs is Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, a confessed self-made millionaire. Waititu and his wife were charged alongside six other Kiambu County officials and a businessman for conspiracy to defraud the county of Sh588 million through irregular road tender. Whereas Waititu’s wife managed to pay the cash bail and was released after spending a night in remand at Lang’ata Women’s Prison, the governor filed an appeal to reduce his bail, arguing that he was not able to raise the amount. In previous interviews, Waititu says he made his money from flipping land in Nairobi’s Embakasi area. Since becoming governor, his wealth spread further, owning multi-million-shilling buildings in different parts of the country, including prime real estate in the capital city. Baba Yao maintains that his wealth was legally earned, and that his trips to the Kenyan courts are a persecution by the State over his political leanings. The State, however, insists that Waititu is where he is because of some curious inconsistencies in his county’s expenditure. As Waititu walks the corridors of justice to try and clear his name, he might on occasion bump into another contemporary. Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero too is a near permanent figure in the law courts. People’s person At the height of his political power and influence, Kidero always walked with an entourage. He was a people’s person. Now, however, court appearances have become a lonely affair. Kidero’s empire is said to include prime residential addresses in the leafy Nairobi suburbs, entire office blocks in upmarket locations in major towns around the country. Last year, in an affidavit filed in court in response to claims by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) that he owned properties worth Sh9 billion, Kidero accused the agency of lying about his wealth. Although he admitted owning properties in many parts of the country, Kidero stated that the EACC exaggerated their value and that they were bought before he was elected Nairobi governor. “Their sole intention is to create a false narrative that I illegally acquired wealth while holding public office,” he says. In a 2013 interview in which he was asked about his wealth, Kidero said: “I am not fabulously wealthy as claimed. Whatever I have, I have worked for it.” They may have made their money, but suddenly, it seems the billions are falling short of purchasing a day’s worth of peace of mind. Not even their friendship and proximity to the wielders of power has shielded them from being pursued.
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