Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wanjala and Akinyi families raise bail. Finally.

The families of former MP Raphael Wanjala and his lover Joyce Akinyi have finally raised the money required to bail the two out of an Indian jail. But it may take another 10 days to secure their release from Tihar Prison in New Delhi where they have been languishing for 22 days.

The families raised Sh1.560,000 to bail them out of India’s second largest jail. Mr Wanjala is the former Budalang’i MP, while his girlfriend is a Nairobi businesswoman at the centre of a property wrangle with her estranged Nigerian husband Antony Chinedu.

The hitch has to do with a holiday in India as most government offices are closed. The Diwali holiday runs for five days and many Indians often extend the celebrations, which began on Tuesday, for another five days. The Kenyan high commissioner in New Delhi, Mr Festus Kaberia, confirmed that he had received sufficient money.

In India, any cash worth more than $5,000 (Sh375,000) has to be declared.

“I received the money on Monday night, a bit too late for official business. We will have to wait for the courts to reconvene. Meanwhile, Wanjala and Akinyi are still in custody,” said Mr Kaberia by telephone from New Delhi.

Mr James Wanjala, a brother of the former MP and Mr Ojiambo Obada, the family spokesman, said the family had raised the money without any help from friends or his party, Ford-Kenya. Mr Wanjala and Ms Akinyi were arrested early this month at New Delhi airport with more than $100,000, the equivalent of Sh7.59 million in cash. In India, any cash worth more than $5,000 (Sh375,000) has to be declared. According to India’s Telegraph, New Delhi’s revenue intelligence department and the narcotics bureau are investigating if the money was to be spent on drugs. The authorities said the two refused to disclose their mission, more than 10 days after they were arrested. "They have refused to give the names and addresses of people they were to meet and stay with in Delhi," the paper quoted an official.

Mr Wanjala, a former Water and Irrigation assistant minister, and Ms Akinyi had travelled from Uganda via Dubai on an Emirates EK-514 flight. Ms Akinyi travelled under a different name, and officials at Tihar Prison told the newspaper Akinyi travelled on a passport with the names Ochieng’ Teressa. New Delhi’s Revenue Intelligence Department was alerted about the arrests while the Narcotics Bureau is also busy investigating whether large sum of money had been meant for purchasing drugs, according to a Delhi newspaper that reported the arrests.

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