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More guns seized in 30-hour siege on tycoon's premises

NAIROBI
By Cyrus Ombati | October 18th 2017
James orengo serves court order barring arrest of Jimi wanjigi

A 30-hour police siege on the premises of businessman Jimi Wanjigi seized six licensed guns and 600 bullets.

The weapons included an M4 rifle, three Glock pistols and a Smith and Wesson pistol. The weapons were seized from Wanjigi’s palatial home Muthaiga in the operation that started on Monday morning.

Mr Wanjigi was not at home at the time of the seizure but his family produced a licence that showed he was permitted to own the weapons.

A senior police officer said they were investigating the ownership of the rifle, which is usually used by the military but is also common with some licensed owners.

Wanjigi's gun licence is expected to expire in February next year.

There was drama at the compound when police arrived with sledgehammers, cutters and other tools and started to dismantle doors to gain entry into the house.

The officers had arrived on Monday morning but did not gain entry into the house. They also did not manage to talk to Wanjigi after they seized five rusty AK47 rifles with 93 bullets from a house in Malindi that they claimed belonged to Wanjigi.

Wanjigi has denied ownership of the house in Malindi and accused police of relying on rumours.

Police deployed

On Monday night, 10 General Service Unit personnel were deployed to Wanjigi's compound with instructions to arrest the businessman if he stepped out. Then, it was not clear if he was inside the compound.

Yesterday, the High Court granted orders stopping the police from arresting or destroying Wanjigi's property.

Justice Chacha Mwita also granted him a Sh50,000 anticipatory bail to stop his arrest pending the hearing of his application challenging the invasion of his home and business premises by security officers since Monday.

Wanjigi, through Lawyer James Orengo, filed the urgent application after heavily armed police officers raided his home in Muthaiga and forced their way into the house to search for illegal arms.

He denied owning the Malindi residence where police said they recovered some firearms.

“The petitioner has no knowledge of the cache of firearms recovered at the premises and categorically states that the property does not belong to him, his associates or any of his family members,” said Orengo.

Orengo told the judge that the connection of Mr Wanjigi and the house in Malindi was conveniently framed to embarrass the businessman and settle political scores.

He accused police of terrorising Wanjigi’s family the entire day on Monday and Tuesday morning without any valid authority, and questioned the search warrant they claimed to have.

“Police had no legitimate grounds for searching the private premises and home of Wanjigi. The manner in which they went with sledge hammers and crude weapons showed a motive to harm him and his family,” said Orengo.

According to the lawyer, it was not the first time police were harassing Wanjigi because of his political stand and refusing to play to the Government's political tune.

Justice Chacha directed that the orders be immediately served on the police to stop their raid on the businessman's home and scheduled the hearing on Thursday.

Earlier in the morning, officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) rushed to a magistrate's court and obtained a search warrant to ransack the house, Wanjigi’s private offices along General Mathenge Road and Caramel restaurant at the ABC Place.

At about 9.30am, about ten officers in civilian clothes drove to the compound armed with sledgehammers, cutters, axes and other tools.

Wanjigi’s elderly parents, his wife, children, sisters and some workers were inside the house.

The officers started to dismantle the expensive doors and knocked down security cameras mounted on them.

A video clip taken by the workers showed the officers using axes and hammers to knock down walls and doors.

Another team broke into Kwacha House, where his offices are located. At the offices, the detectives did not take away anything.

They then proceeded to Caramel restaurant, where they held staff hostage while trying to access his office. For nearly three hours, the restaurant, which is located on the second floor of ABC in Westlands, was under siege.

At his Muthaiga home, the police announced that they had stumbled on a cache of weapons and bullets. But the businessman's family produced documents that showed Wanjigi had paid Sh9,200 for the year to renew his gun licence.

“He is permitted to own these guns as per this licence. We don’t know what they want from him again,” said one worker there who showed the license.

But the team said they were under instructions to take the weapons away.

GSU personnel kept vigil at the entrance of the compound. They only allowed police cars into the compound. Some family members were turned away.

Up to ten police cars and 44 police officers were involved in the operation at the premises.

At about 4 pm, Lawyer James Orengo arrived at the compound armed with an order instructing the officers not to arrest Wanjigi and stop trespassing into his premises.

But the GSU personnel at the entrance said they had instructions not to allow him in.

Orengo then mounted the order at the entrance and threatened to cite the officers in court today for contempt.

“You can see these are police officers but they are refusing to heed an order from a court. We don’t know what they want,” said Orengo.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga visited the family home Tuesday evening.

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