Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wanjala and lover languishing in Indian jail

Former Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala and the woman at the centre of a property wrangle with her estranged Nigerian husband have been arrested in India and are being held in prison custody.

Joyce Akinyi and Wanjala have been behind bars in New Delhi for a week now, after they were arrested with bundles of American dollars after police swooped down on a money laundering racket. A source in New Delhi on Wednesday narrated how she met Akinyi — whose divorce case with Anthony Chinedu is pending in court — at the Tihar prison in New Delhi on Tuesday. Reliable sources also indicate that the couple were arrested at the New Delhi Airport last Friday, October 10.

Authorities at the Tihar prison confirmed that Wanjala was their guest. “Yes, it is confirmed that Raphael Bitta Sauti Wanjala is in this jail,” the official said. He did not, however, confirm what charges, if at all, had been preferred against the two, saying such information could only be obtained from the arresting police station, which we could not immediately establish. Akinyi’s name could not be displayed on the computer the prison official was using, raising the suspicion that she was using an alias.

Akinyi is said to have travelled to India two weeks ago through Uganda. Reports indicate that she might have travelled from Kampala to India on a passport bearing another name. Calls to the Kenyan High Commission in New Delhi on Wednesday did not bear any information on the two, since the high commissioner, Mr Festus Kaberia, was said to be in meetings in other parts of the country. An aide to the high commissioner said she did not have any information on the arrests, but promised to get back to us once her boss returned. Sources in New Delhi said the two were set up by people they had been doing undisclosed business with.

Reports show that the two had been arrested earlier on the same day and were used by the police as bait to get their accomplices in the undisclosed crime. “Akinyi was called by another sister she does business with, who told her that they were in trouble and needed to be bailed out. She carried a lot of money to the airport where she got two of her friends with the police and she was arrested,” said a source. Another source revealed that the two had between them close to $100,000 (about Sh7.5 million) in cash at the time of the arrest. The Tihar prison, with more than 11,000 inmates, is the largest prison in India. There is a division between the male and female prisons. Ms Akinyi was supposed to appear in court in Nairobi on Wednesday in a case in which a businessman is accusing her of failing to deliver on a multi-million shilling deal.

The couple burst into the limelight when Ms Akinyi’s husband claimed they were having an affair and that his wife had snatched his business empire worth millions of shillings. At first, Wanjala denied the claims until he was caught on camera leaving a city hotel after meeting Akinyi. Wanjala has an assault case pending in court following an attack on NTV cameraman Mustafa Mwalimu on July 8 this year at the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi. He was released on Sh200,000 bail, pending hearing of the case on October 27. Chinedu went to court seeking to divorce Akinyi. He is also, in another case, seeking sale of the property they jointly own and have the proceeds shared out between them.

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