Profiles

Jimmi Wanjigi comes face to face with hard tackle

jimmy

Businessman Jimi Wanjigi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

BDgeneric_logo

Summary

  • Until a few years ago, many had not seen Jimi Wanjigi in public.
  • And although the name sounded familiar, being the son of a former Cabinet Minister Maina Wanjigi, no one had even seen his photograph.
  • This is because the 59-year-old businessman and politician preferred a reclusive life and operating from behind the scenes.

Until a few years ago, many had not seen Jimi Wanjigi in public.

And although the name sounded familiar, being the son of a former Cabinet Minister Maina Wanjigi, no one had even seen his photograph.

This is because the 59-year-old businessman and politician preferred a reclusive life and operating from behind the scenes.

All this time he had close ties with powerful men in successive governments, earning him good deals.

Close friends say Mr Wanjigi preferred remaining secretive but it was an open secret that he enjoyed close relationship with the powers that be, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, both being old boys of prestigious St Mary’s School.

Mr Wanjigi even boasted having negotiated the alliance between Uhuru’s TNA and Deputy President William Ruto’s United Republican Party (URP).

But he soon shifted his allegiance to ODM leader Raila Odinga and was even among the financiers of his campaigns.

He later came out in the open and even campaigned vigorously for Mr Odinga. It was then that many Kenyans could identify the businessman.

His dalliance with Mr Odinga, however, seems to have brought him trouble because in early 2017, police raided his home and later made attempts to charge him with illegal possession of guns and ammunition.

Mr Odinga stood by him and condemned the police raid. The ODM leader even camped at his home as police officers laid a siege there.

Last year, Mr Wanjigi announced his bid to succeed President Kenyatta and challenged Mr Odinga to a political duel for ODM flagbearer.

To actualise his dream, he started campaigns across the country and all has been well save for the ugly reception in parts of Nyanza a few months ago.

Still determined to capture the presidential seat on an ODM ticket, Mr Wanjigi has soldiered on until, in December, he was involved in a court fight with the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, over guns seized from his home in 2017.

This is after the High Court issued a warrant that Mr Kinoti be arrested for allegedly refusing to return the guns.

Mr Kinoti later obtained an order suspending the warrant before the Court of Appeal.

And early this week, Mr Wanjigi had another run-in with the police, when they raided his home for the second time in a bid to arrest him, this time over claims of land fraud.

He was later picked and locked overnight at Kamukunji Police Station before he was presented before a Milimani court to face the fraud charges.

His lawyers, however, obtained an order stopping his prosecution, pending the determination of the petition.

“Jimi is being persecuted because he has expressed interest in the country’s top job. Release him to the people. He will be the fifth President and surely he will be,” his lawyer Willis Otieno told the court.

Now Mr Wanjigi has atatcked the Handshake between Mr Odinga and President Kenyatta. He accused Mr Odinga of betraying the party’s founding principles and values of democracy, which he has fought for over the years.

“I have a message to Rt. Hon. Raila. You have sold the soul of ODM party to President Kenyatta’s interests,” he said shortly after he was released without charges by magistrate Bernard Ochoi.

He blamed the woes on his “aggressive” presidential campaign. “Consequently, anyone seen to pose a threat in presidential race is being destroyed politically,” he said, adding he won’t be intimidated.

In the latest case, Mr Wanjigi together with his wife Irene Nzisa were to be charged with forgery over a parcel of land in Westlands. He is accused of fraudulently acquiring the land on which one of his companies stands.

The charge states they committed it jointly with others on diverse dates between April 9, 2010 and June 5, 2018.