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Who is the mysterious 'billionaire' woman at the heart of Sh17b diesel import saga?

FEATURES

As mysterious as she emerged from the woodworks, Kenyans are yet to unmask who Anne Njeri Njoroge, the woman in the Sh17 billion oil import saga, really is.

Njeri shocked many when out of the blue, she claimed to be the owner of a diesel consignment worth Sh17 million, which is now turning into a circus over who is the exact owner of the cargo.

Her claim to the cargo has raised more questions than answers. It got murky when Njeri was allegedly abducted by people her lawyer Cliff Ombeta insisted were police officers working at the behest of powerful individuals.

 Ann Njeri Njoroge with lawyer Cliff Ombeta.

A supposed billionaire, her demeanour and explanations about how she broke into this club have not been convincing at all. Her story has not been consistent begging the question of whether Njeri is a pawn in the larger scheme of things.

Cagey, the woman does not strike the image of a billionaire, nor does she ooze the confidence associated with wealth.

For the few days she has been in the limelight, little is known about her business track record, business circles and even family save for her mother.

Those doubting her grass-to-grace story, suspect Njeri could be the face of powerful figures using her in the oil saga that has attracted massive attention.

On the day she was to appear before the National Assembly Energy Committee on Wednesday (November 22) to shed light on the matter, her lawyer said she was “indisposed and immobile”.

“She will however be available at a later date convenient with the Committee,” a letter signed by Diro Advocates LLP read in part.

The development denied Kenyans an opportunity, at least for now, to know the finer details of the oil importation saga as well as her business dealings.

Interview

The Nairobian had the previous day traced the businesswoman to her base in Mombasa where she engaged us in a measured interview.

We found her seated in one of the high-end hotels on the North Coast during lunch hour even though her associates had mentioned that she resides in the neighbouring Kilifi County.

As we settle for the interview, Njeri declares that contrary to earlier reports, she is not in hiding.

“What I have gone through in the past few weeks can overburden a human being but God has seen me through,” Njeri opens up as she wipes away beads of sweat forming on her face.

“I’m a Kenya and Dubai resident but I value my country the most. That is why I started the journey to ship the oil,” she explains.

Apart from the Kilifi residence, she also says she has another permanent one in Dubai.

“Dubai is a melting pot of business people and to live there and get citizenship, you need to have a lot of money,” says Njeri.

She adds that despite being a billionaire, she chose a simple life because as a woman of God, she doesn’t have to flaunt her wealth.

“My children are in Kenya even though the youngest is sitting the exams,” says Njeri, adding that when she left the country to Dubai, she continued her studies around oil imports.

Notably, Njeri spots a green medium-sized prayer bead tied across the palm on the right hand, allowing some fingers to caress the globules.

In between the conversation, she frequently invokes the name of God and mentions ‘Nyota’ which is associated with Pastor Ezekiel of New Life Ministries.

Asked about her association with Ezekiel, her response was: “I’m a strong believer and respect men of God. I know Pastor Ezekiel and I have not seen any problem with him. When I arrived in Kenya, I went to pray there.”

Njeri says she joined the oil business after learning ropes in mineral trade and other commodities then switched to the oil business, which she has done for more than three decades.

False narrative

In a previous interview, her mother said she has not set eyes on Njeri, aged 55, for the last six years. Njeri admits she has not seen her for a long time but promises to visit her soon.  “Yes I have missed mum, it has been quite a while and I plan to visit her soon,” she tells this writer.

She denies falling out with her mother, claiming the media is trying to depict a non-existent narrative.

At the same time, she denies neglecting her, saying the house shown in the media is not the one her mother stays in but that of her late grandmother that was built in the late 1980s, which has remained intact as they are not allowed to take it down.

“My mother lives in a modern home with CCTV installations and she is well taken care of. The house shown in the media belongs to our late grandmother and we are not allowed to take it down,” says Njeri.

“I beseech you to leave my mother and family out of this. Respect our privacy,” she adds.

 On the oil saga that has generated a lot of heat, Njeri claims the importation process had been going on smoothly until November 4 when she received a call alerting her about the diversion of her cargo.

“I was told that some people had plotted to offload without my knowledge, this forced me to travel from Mtwapa to Likoni and to witness what was happening,” she says.

“First, I reported the matter to the police, Kenya Ports Authority officers who were present checked my documents, but they said they could not stop the process, I was told to get an order which I did but it was not respected,” she adds.

Njeri’s case was recorded under OB 21/04/11/2023, at KPA Police Station Mombasa. In the OB, it was captured that Njeri is a resident of Kilifi and Dubai and a business person who imports petroleum products under the company of Ann’s Import and Exports Company Limited.

Her consignment was aboard a ship named Haigui that docked at Mombasa KPA port.

“She did the process and it was to be due on Monday 6/11/2023 but to her surprise, the complainant has seen the ship at KOT2 ready to deliver the products without her consent,” reads the OB.

Powerful individuals

The woman blames her woes on two powerful individuals who claimed they were in a position to help her over the issue only to short-change her.

“We had met in Mombasa, agreed about the deal. Afterwards, they went back to Nairobi to prepare a contract so that once they pay the vessel, we can start offloading,” she says.

The two individuals, she said, invoked the name of President William Ruto, claiming that they were in communication with him at the time.

“At some point, they told me that had information that Galana Energies had an interest in the matter. Later on, when I told them that the ship was being offloaded illegally, they advised me that we ought to go and see Energy CS Davis Chirchir,” she added.

Njeri says the meeting with Chirchir on November 8 was not fruitful after she was tossed around and informed the fuel belonged to Galana Energies.

Chirchir was scheduled to appear before the Energy Committee to give his side of the story on Thursday.

 

- Additional reporting by Joackim Bwana

 

 

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