Anne Njeri: I was told to choose either oil or my life

Business lady Ann Njeri Njoroge at the Mombasa Court in Mombasa County on Tuesday 14th November 2023. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The businesswoman at the centre of the Sh17 billion oil deal yesterday narrated her 120 hours in captivity saying her abductors told her to choose between death and forfeiting the diesel.

Ms Ann Njeri is said to have gone missing on Thursday from the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters in Nairobi where she had allegedly gone to record a statement over the disputed ownership of the diesel between her and Galana Energies Limited and ARAMCO Trading Fujairah.

On October 8, Ms Njeri had reportedly met a Member of Parliament who advised her to pursue the case at DCI headquarters.

It was after her visit to the DCI headquarters that she went missing. She resurfaced on the evening of November 13, when she was escorted to Nyayo Estate in Embakasi where she spent the night.

“She was escorted by two men who claimed to be security officers who were under instructions to ensure that she is safe,” Njeri’s associate said.

The two men told her that they were harmless and advised to drop the matter so that she can be allowed to fly back to Dubai.

The associate claimed that the two left Njeri around 10pm and there were fears that her safety could be compromised, forcing them to upscale the security around the court where she spent the night.

On Tuesday morning Njeri’s lawyer Cliff Ombeta went to Embakasi where the two men who had escorted the businesswoman the previous night (Monday) had returned seeking to meet her.

Ombeta confirmed to The Standard that there were efforts by the two individuals to push Njeri to drop the case. “Nimekataa,” Ombeta responded.

“Niko na Ann Njeri Njoroge. I found her where she was abandoned,” the advocate said adding that the alleged officers had threatened her life.

Even though the exact location where she was being held remains unknown, her family had booked a case of a missing person at Muthaiga Police Station.

Njeri’s acquaintances claimed that by Monday night she had been issued with three conditions, to forget about the oil deal, leave the country or her life will no longer be guaranteed.

When she finally broke her silence in Mombasa, she said she was psychologically tortured by her abductors.

She begged them to spare her life saying her children depended on her.

“I asked them where they were taking me. I told them not to kill me. I told them I had done nothing or stolen anything. I told them they have wives and mothers. So I pleaded with them not to kill me and I started praying,” said Njeri.

Her captors blindfolded her and told her nothing was going to happen to her before she ended up chained in a house for the 120 hours.

“I was told to admit that the fuel was not mine and tell the truth and if I lied, I would not see my children. I told them what I had recorded at the DCI was the truth. The house had no window only electricity. I tried to knock the door to go to the washroom but no one heard me and due to anxiety I peed on myself,” said Njeri.

Businesswoman Anne Njeri Njoroge who went missing last week arrives at Mombasa court, in the company of lawyer Cliff Ombeta. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

After being released, she booked a flight to Dubai but was told she would only leave the country after she withdrew the case she had filed seeking to bar the offloading of the fuel by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Njeri had successfully obtained a high court order stopping the Kenya Pipeline Corporation (KPC) and KPA from offloading the fuel pending a hearing and determination of the case.

Justice Magare Kizito directed KPA, KPC, and Galana to file responses in 48 hours. 

After she recorded a statement at the DCI, Njeri said she was asked to board a vehicle and thought they were headed to record more statements with other agencies but they kept on driving towards a rough road at night.

Her abductors put her in a vehicle and asked her if she had taken any medicine and told her to surrender her phone and give them the password.

“They asked me if I had taken any medicine and if I was sick. They told me to surrender my phone and give them the password. I asked them why they are separating me from my lawyers but there was no response,” said Njeri.

She said the vehicle was headed in the direction of Kiambu but they later blindfolded her and took her to a different place using a rough road.

“All this time I was pleading not to be killed. I cannot tell where I was and how the house was,” she said.

Njeri said that she stayed in the abandoned room for long and lost track of time. 

“In the morning they again asked me to tell them the truth. And I still insisted on what I had told them. They later told me to go and they would not kill a mother like me. I was later abandoned at a place in Nyayo.”

She said they served her three meals a day including vegetables, mangos, bananas and avocado but she only took water and strong coffee to avoid sleeping.

“They gave me food but I could not eat because of fear it would be poisoned and even declined the juice given to me.,” said Njeri. 

The oil billionaire revealed that the diesel she had imported was from Europe and that for one month it has been in the high seas.

“I was selling through CIF because of the Government to Government deal, I was told to sell to off-takers,” said Njeri.

Her lawyers Ombeta and David Chumo said they will not withdraw the case.

“It is a very sad story. She was kept in a house in the middle of Karura until when she was abandoned in Embakasi. She was chained to two big chairs and wasn’t even allowed to go to the washrooms and messed herself,” he said.

He said Njeri was supposed to leave the country and had bought a ticket to Dubai. Ombeta claimed the government has stolen the fuel and taken it to the pipeline.

“We are saying impunity must die. She was told to leave the oil business and also later they tried to negotiate for a commission. They said she is bringing cheaper fuel. The document they gave is doctored since she never gave them the original documents,” he said.

The lawyer claimed that the ship MV Haigui was released and the captain threatened that he will never do business in Kenya.

“What type of government is this. She is a businesswoman for years and has been doing business in oil for long. Why let her off if her papers were not in line. They have taken the oil. She will follow the fuel whether she is in the country or not. There is no paper trail by Galana,” said the lawyer.

On Monday Energy Cabinet Davis Chirchir while leading a tree planting in Baringo admitted that Njeri visited his office over the matter last week.

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