Police who stormed the home of controversial businessman Jimi Wanjigi, breaking doors with axes and metal cutters, were looking for guns, ammunition and explosives.
They said they found an M4 — a military-grade rifle — five pistols and a shotgun at his Muthaiga home in Nairobi and that they were hoping to find documents with information on importation and use of the weapons.
The opposition coalition, however, claimed Mr Wanjigi was being harassed by the Jubilee administration because of his support for the National Super Alliance (Nasa) flagbearer Raila Odinga.
Through Chief Inspector Joseph Gichuki, the police told a magistrate’s court in Nairobi that they were investigating the businessman for offences related to the use of firearms and explosives.
The court allowed the police to search the homes and the officers then stormed into the palatial residence on Muthaiga Road.
Three dozen officers from the Flying Squad and the Special Crimes Prevention Unit backed by colleagues from the paramilitary General Service Unit had camped at the home for over 24 hours but had been denied entry into the fortified house.
“Whereas it has been proved to me on oath that the purpose of the investigations into the commission of an offence is desirable or necessary to conduct search in the offices and premises, I authorise Chief Inspector Joseph Gichuki or any other police officer by this order,” the court order issued Tuesday said.
It was extended to Mr Wanjigi’s other properties at Kwacha Group of companies on General Mathenge Road and Caramel Restaurant and Lounge in Westlands.
The order said the police are allowed “to enter the premise or dwelling houses inhabited, whether temporary or permanently and or controlled by the respondent (Mr Wanjigi)”.
“The orders enable the investigating officer and any other police officer to open, search, have access, seize, remove and carry away firearms, ammunition, explosives, documents related to importation of firearm, ammunition and explosives, including documents related to usage of firearms, ammunition and explosive and any other evidential material related to commission of the suspected offence.”
Another raid on Sunday was carried out at a house in Malindi, which police claimed belonged to Mr Wanjigi.
Officers in the coastal town said five guns and 93 rounds of ammunition were seized there.
Mr Wanjigi has been a key financier and strategist for Mr Odinga’s Nasa after he fell out with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee camp, which he supported in the 2013 elections.
On Tuesday he obtained a reprieve after the High Court ordered the police to refrain from destroying his properties or arresting him.
Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita also granted Mr Wanjigi an anticipatory bail of Sh50,000, while barring the police from threatening to have him arrested.
The judge, however, directed that this temporary reprieve remains in place until Thursday at 11am, when he will hear the case.
“Having considered the issues raised, I am satisfied that this case has substantial constitutional legal issues, which ought to be considered. In the meantime, Mr Wanjigi deserves the protection of the court,” he said.
Through lawyers James Orengo, Otiende Amollo and Jackson Awele, the businessman, together with his wife Irene Nzisa Wanjigi, sued the Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko.
The couple protested against police raids on their homes in Malindi and Nairobi without search warrants.
They also sought to stop police from carrying out any arrest.
“Police have a duty to arrest but Mr Wanjigi’s rights have to be protected … the raids paint a picture of a citizen who is under siege and this court has a duty to protect his rights when called upon to do so,” Mr Orengo said.
However, Mr Odinga accused police of disobeying the court order that barred them from arresting the businessman.
“I am feeling ashamed and embarrassed because you are now operating outside the law on the orders of the IG despite a court order,” he told the police officers.
Police camped at the upmarket Muthaiga residence from 10am on Monday because they could not gain entry.
Nine officers from the paramilitary General Service Unit provided support to about 30 others from the Flying Squad and the Special Crimes Prevention Unit, who carried out the raid.
In the siege that ensued, officers took positions around the compound to control movement in or out of the home.
One of the family lawyers was only allowed to drive out of the compound at 11pm after his black Toyota Prado was searched by police.
The officers were deployed to the home in 8-hour shifts.
Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe described Mr Wanjigi as a “nefarious criminal’’ under investigations as a matter of national security.
“This is not politically motivated as has been claimed by some. Any gun in the wrong hands is a threat to the peace and security of the country,” he said on Tuesday, reacting to Nasa claims that the businessman was being targeted because of associating with the opposition.
At Caramel, which was the nerve centre of Nasa activities after the August 8 election, and where opposition leader Raila Odinga held several press conferences, business was closed and employees did not report to work in the morning.
The restaurant was opened some minutes past noon, after police officers in plain clothes presented the manager with a search warrant.
The officers searched the restaurant and the lounge for the better part of the afternoon.
At the Kwacha Group offices, police walked in and out of the compound as journalists waited outside.
The guards were pushed to a corner of the compound where their movement was restricted and monitored.
The police could not immediately gain access to the office block but were allowed in after a short while and began ransacking the building including the adjoining ones.
“It appears that they did not get what they were looking for in the block, which is used as an office by our boss even though they never told us what they were looking for,” one of the guards securing the entry to the perimeter-walled facility said.
Their vehicles, mostly Subaru Foresters, were parked not far from the office block, but were out of the sight of the journalists.
Reports by Fred Mukinda, Ken Kimanthi, Faith Nyamai and David Mwere
More detectives arrive armed with heavy tools, including sledge hammers.