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Wanjigi in Sh16m helicopter debt row

Businessman Jimi Wanjigi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Businessman Jimi Wanjigi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Helicopter charter service firm Lady Lori has sued businessman Jimi Wanjigi and his companies, Tyl Limited and Kwacha Group of Companies, seeking orders barring him from taking possession of his chopper before settling a Sh16.5 million debt in maintenance and hangar fees.

Lady Lori says it was contracted by the two firms and Mr Wanjigi in 2014 to service the aircraft, or provide Mr Wanjigi with one of its helicopters whenever his (Mr Wanjigi’s) was not airworthy.

It says Mr Wanjigi and his firms returned one year later for hangar space services that were also included in the deal.

The helicopter charter service provider now says Mr Wanjigi and his firms planned to take back their aircraft without settling a Sh16.5 million debt accumulated since 2015.

Mr Wanjigi’s helicopter, registration number 5Y-JWJ, was at the centre of attention during the recent electioneering period following the businessman’s alleged support for presidential candidate Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance (Nasa).

Mr Wanjigi and Kwacha Group of Companies are yet to respond to the suit.

Tyl Limited has, however, filed an objection to the suit, arguing it was filed to blackmail it into paying debts owed by Mr Wanjigi and Kwacha Group of Companies.

Tyl Limited further claims that the helicopter 5Y-JWJ has not been operational for more than two years, poking holes into allegations that it was used by Nasa and Mr Odinga during the recent campaigns. The firm says it owes Lady Lori Sh7 million.

“Vide a helicopter maintenance agreement, Lady Lori was approached by Tyl Limited to maintain its helicopter 5Y-JWJ to which Lady Lori agreed. Further to an oral aircraft agreement, Tyl Limited requested Lady Lori to place its helicopters at the disposal of Jimi Wanjigi at all times when its helicopter shall be under maintenance and is not airworthy.

“But Tyl Limited in a clear and elaborate mischief has sought to disown its contractual obligations relating to the maintenance and charter agreements and only seeks to honour the hangarage agreement, which it is also disputing in a bid to avoid paying the full outstanding amounts,” Lady Lori accounts manager Joseph Githiga says in suit papers.

Tyl Limited says Lady Lori was merely looking to paralyse operations of the helicopter with a wider game plan of frustrating the contract it had with the helicopter charter services firm.

Lady Lori has attached as evidence invoices for maintenance and for charter services offered to Mr Wanjigi as it seeks to prove that the businessman was issued with requests for payment.

Among the aircraft charter invoices attached is that for a trip to the lake region Mr Wanjigi took in December last year. The invoice lists Karen in Nairobi County and various areas in Siaya and Kisumu counties.

Justice Olga Sewe has ordered Mr Wanjigi’s Tyl Limited to deposit cash in lieu of the admitted Sh7 million debt in a joint interest earning account pending determination of the suit.

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