Mombasa top cop denies link to 'absconding' businessman Ali Punjani

Updated: Aug 23, 2019, 09:04 IST | Diwakar Sharma

Johnston Ipara denies reports of demotion, but refuses to respond to questions about whether he tipped-off Punjani, helping him escape to India

Ali Punjani
Ali Punjani

A week after Kenyan cabinet secretary Fred Matiang'i announced a war against drugs and carried out a massive raid at the sprawling, sea-facing bungalow of business tycoon Ali Punjani, nearly two dozen top policemen in Mombasa, Kenya, have either been shunted out or given low-profile postings in the police department, allegedly because of their 'close connections' with the absconding mogul who is recuperating in Mumbai.

Punjani flew to Mumbai days before the police kicked off their ruthless drive against drugs in Mombasa. Before he came to Mumbai, he got admitted to a hospital in Mombasa where he underwent angioplasty.

Johnston Ipara: Punjani allegedly flew to Mumbai days before the police kicked off a ruthless drive against drugs in Mombasa
Johnston Ipara: Punjani allegedly flew to Mumbai days before the police kicked off a ruthless drive against drugs in Mombasa

Also Read: Cops keeping 'hawk-eye' on drug trafficking suspect Ali Punjani

The tip-off

A source said, "It [Punjani's hospitalisation] was planned. The officers, who have been shunted, tipped off Punjani to leave Kenya after they learnt about the possibly ruthless operation against narcotics by the law enforcement agency in Mombasa. It has been alleged that Ipara and other senior cops, who have either been demoted or shunted, had a close nexus with the absconding Punjani, who is now in the safe haven of five-star hotel in Bandra along with his sister."

The absconding drug lord had allegedly had gifted 10 police vehicles to Kenya's National Police Service. This is why he was given 19 police officers to guard his bungalow in Nyali. The allegations have, however, been have been scotched by Johnston Ipara, County Police Commander, Mombasa, who has now been made the head of a unit of officers guarding the home of a senior government official.

Ali Punjani who moved to Sofitel hotel at BKC after his surgery at Asian Heart Institute earlier this month. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Ali Punjani who moved to Sofitel hotel at BKC after his surgery at Asian Heart Institute earlier this month. Pic/Bipin Kokate

'Prophet of doom'

He told mid-day, "Anyone who alleges that I have been demoted is a prophet of doom, who is bound to doom. I am a police officer who has no room for drug traffickers or those who believe in corruption. I have always believed in the rule of law and justice for all without prejudice."

"I have nothing to do with Ali Punjani. I have been the county police commander from October 20, 2017 and he was implicated in drug trafficking back in 2010, when I was not in Mombasa. Therefore, any allegation that I was aware of or protecting Punjani is cheap propaganda which cannot hold water," added Ipara, who refused to comment over allegations of him and his police brigade guarding Punjani's bungalow and helping him escape to India.

Also Read: Mumbai: Ali Punjani got his bypass done in BKC hospital

War against drugs continues

Sources have told mid-day that the war against drugs will continue and Punjani, who is currently lodged at a five-star hotel in Bandra, may face arrest after he goes back to Mombasa. The source added that Punjani has been studying the minute-to-minute developments in Mombasa, "This is why he has been extending his booking in the hotel every alternate day."

A source in Mumbai said, "No one comes to meet Punjani in the hotel. He comes out of his room just to have meals with his sister, walks around the property and returns to his room which has been booked for two people since August 6." Mumbai police officers in plainclothes have been watching Punjani like a hawk during his stay in the city. However, they have not received any administrative request from the Kenyan government to place him under arrest or make provisional detention.

19
No. of policemen given for security at Ali Punjani's Mombasa bungalow

10
No. of police vehicles that Punjani had gifted to the Kenya National Police

Also Read: Kim Sharma's ex escapes Kenya's war on drugs

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