BY SAM ALFAN.
A Nigerian businessman nabbed with Sh100 million at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has lost his bid to get his money back.
High Court Anti-Corruption Judge James Wakiaga dismissed Mauzu Bala’s application, seeking to unfreeze the money which is currently being held by the Central Bank of Kenya courtesy of a court order.
“I find no merit in the application for variation of the orders herein at this stage, which I hereby dismiss with cost in the cause,” ruled the judge.
While dismissing Bala’s application, the Judge said that the issue of whether or not he had made the required declaration is not relevant at this stage.
Rather, Justice Wakiaga said, the application which was before the court was for preservation of the money, the source and legality of it, pending a petition for forfeiture proceedings if filed by the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA).
The judge further noted that from the material placed before him, Bala’s contention was that the order was obtained on the basis of material non-disclosure on the basis that another application had been made before a magistrate. He said the magistrate could still have issued an ordere freezing the money.
The Nigerian, who was on transit to Dubai when he was nabbed at JKIA said he had declared the money back in Lagos and was cleared by customs officials.
“On the question of non-declaration of funds at customs. I wish to state I was a passenger on transit to Dubai from Lagos Nigeria.
“At Murtala Mohammed International Airport, I declared the currency and I was cleared by the customs to travel. I checked in the consignment and as is the usual norm in international travels, my next declaration point would have been Dubai International Airport,” Bala said.
In reply to an application by a state agency, he ARA of failing to make full disclosure to the court when the order was issued.
In his court documents, Bala claims that the information given by ARA was not accurate and was intentionally meant to mislead the court.
“I pray that the orders granted be set aside and the court replaces the same with an order directing the money in question be released,” Bala said.
He claims that the Agency filed two applications before the High Court without informing the Magistrate court sitting at JKIA that they had filed an application seeking to seize and preserve his money and a ruling was pending.
In a sworn affidavit, Bala says he was on transit to Dubai and had been cleared by Nigeria customs at Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
He claims during the layover at JKIA officials, not from customs department, who claimed to be police came calling.
He added that he was surprised Kenya Airways which cleared him at Lagos travel aboard their aircraft with “undeclared currency” pounced on him in Nairobi with the intention to deprive him of his money.