In Summary
  • The raid on Mr Punjani's house early this week has seen police unmask suspected kingpins of the narcotics trade in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale.

  • Top on the list are several businessmen, both local and foreign, with deeply entrenched connections in the police service, the Judiciary and the political class.

  • A number of those on the wanted list have been spotted in the company of leading politicians and are said to play an active, though covert, role in Coast and national politics.

During a fundraiser for Lamu fire victims in Nairobi in September 2009, Mr Ali Punjani was among those who came forth to give their contributions.

His Sh6 million contribution was double that of the then President Mwai Kibaki, who was leading the fundraiser.

That was, perhaps, an announcement that Mr Punjani is not your ordinary businessman.

The following year, a dossier came from the American Embassy naming Mr Punjani among suspected drug traffickers in the country.

CALLING SHOTS

Despite being mentioned in Parliament, Mr Punjani instead acquired more powers and influence that allowed him to get deeper into the security and political circles.

In 2013, Mr Punjani was also among Mombasa businessmen who donated 10 police vehicles to the National Police Service.

Former Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa later claimed that the vehicles were being used to traffick drugs within the county, prompting a bitter exchange between him and a group of local leaders.

At that time, Mr Punjani was also calling shots within the service, which had offered him police officers at a fee.

His control of police officers last year saw Mr Punjani influence the arrest of seven Nepalese who were working as dancers.

“The dancers were working at a club that competed with one owned by Punjani’s friend and, to help his friend, he asked police to shut down the Nyali club where the Nepalese were operating,” said a source.

Mr Punjani, 44, also played a key role in financing politicians who frequented his home in Nyali. Sources say both local and national politicians are among those whose activities he has funded.

“You will be shocked to see the people who come here. I have seen some big people driving in here,” said a neighbour at Mr Punjani’s home in Nyali suburb.

The business mogul who routinely hangs out with politicians, lives large.

To access his bungalow, one has to get through an electric gate guarded by security guards from Armytex.

After a 100-metre walk, a huge door with a diamond-like knob ushers you into the all ensuite seven-bedroom mansion.

COVERT ROLE

An ultra-modern lounge, furnished with three leather sofa-sets of brown, red and black colours complete with air conditioning make up part of the interiors of the one storey home.

The raid on Mr Punjani's house early this week has seen police unmask suspected kingpins of the narcotics trade in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale.

Top on the list are several businessmen, both local and foreign, with deeply entrenched connections in the police service, the Judiciary and the political class.

A number of those on the wanted list have been spotted in the company of leading politicians and are said to play an active, though covert, role in Coast and national politics.

Mr Punjani was not at his residence at the time of the raid, with reports indicating he is undergoing treatment in India.

Police said Mr Punjani would be arrested the minute he jets into the country.

“We want him to come and explain to us where he got all this wealth. We found many cheques, title deeds and more than Sh63,000,” said Mombasa police commander Johnston Ipara following the Tuesday raid at the businessman’s Nyali residence.

Police sources said investigations had linked Mr Punjani to the narcotics trade.

Page 1 of 2