Fight for Akasha's seized properties rages on

Baktash Akasha.

Baktash Akasha.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The battle for the property of the two Akasha brothers serving prison sentences in the US for drug trafficking, has gained momentum after their wives and mother wrote to the court asking for an update on a case to force the government to release property seized from their home in Nyali.

Ms Najma Juma Hassan, Baktash Akasha's wife, and Ms Fatma Akasha, his mother, have raised concerns about the delay in delivering the verdict, two years after the hearing ended.

Through their lawyer Kiogora Mugambi, Ms Hassan and Ms Akasha have written to the deputy registrar of the Mombasa court seeking to know what has happened to their case.

"We regretfully inquire about the status of the judgment in this matter which was heard before Justice Erick Ogola and the final submissions were filed way back in 2021," reads part of the letter.

Justice Ogola heard the case in Mombasa but was transferred to another station before delivering judgment. The petitioners suspect that his transfer from Mombasa may have contributed to the delays in delivering the judgment.

In the petition, Ms Hassan and Ms Akasha are seeking an order compelling the government to release items taken from Baktash's Nyali home when a team from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and American agents raided his house.

They have claimed that some of the items were not used in the extradition proceedings in Kenya or in the Southern District Court in New York on charges of conspiracy to import narcotics into the US.

In the letter, Ms Hassan says that now that Baktash is in prison, all his property should be handed over to her since ownership has been established. 

She complained that it is against the law for the government to hold on to property that has not been used as evidence in both Kenya and the US.

The property includes a Mercedes Benz and a Land Cruiser vehicles, title deeds to palatial houses in Nyali, 11 gold chains, two Ceska pistols loaded with 16 rounds of ammunition, 10 separate rounds of ammunition, more than 10 mobile phones and log books.

They are also demanding the release of other properties estimated to be worth billions of shillings, spread across the United States, Pakistan and Iran.

Their petition follows the successful extradition of Baktash Akasha and Ibrahim Akasha to the US and their imprisonment on drug trafficking charges.

Ibrahim and Baktash are serving 23 and 25 years respectively in the US after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.

During the hearing of this petition, the court was told that the state still holds the property of Baktash and Ms Hassan, including the seven gold chains and a hand chain with coins. 

"The petitioners seek a declaration that the properties mentioned herein were not exhibits in the extradition proceedings and are not subject to forfeiture and an order for the immediate release of all the properties to us," Ms Hassan and Ms Akasha said in their petition.

The petitioners are also seeking damages for loss of use and prejudice caused by the illegal seizure and detention of the properties.

In their court papers, the petitioners seek a declaration that the continued possession of the property is unlawful and has violated their rights.

"Notwithstanding the intent and purpose of the search, the inventory of the items seized during the search clearly showed bad faith, malice and an intention to unjustly punish us," they said.

They told the court that the seizure of the children's birth certificates, toys and passports had nothing to do with the crime being investigated at the time and that it was done with the sole intention of harassing and punishing the innocent children.

Ms Hayat Abdalla Akasha, the widow of family patriarch Ibrahim Akasha, had also asked the court to intervene in the case, alleging fraud to exclude her from her late husband's properties in case they were awarded to her co-wife after the verdict.

She argues that some of the properties listed by her co-wife in the court documents belonged to her late husband, the father of the jailed brothers, and that she is entitled to them.

"I suspect fraud and foul play. Properties such as land and the palatial house being held by the government belong to the late Ibrahim Akasha," she argues in her court papers.

The widow contends that her late husband's properties cannot be said to be proceeds of crime because he was never convicted of any drug-related offence by any court in Kenya or the US.

She argues that those listed in court documents as owners of the properties being held by the state, including Baktash, are not the original owners of the properties because they were acquired by the older Akasha long before the Narcotic and Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act was enacted.

"Forfeiting the properties will therefore amount to denying the late Akasha family the right to enjoy private property purchased by my late husband," said Ms Abdalla.

This comes even as the state says some of the properties seized from the jailed Akasha brothers will not be returned to their families.

During the hearing of the petition, the state, through the Anti-Narcotics Unit, said some of the properties would be forfeited to the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) because they were considered proceeds of crime committed by the Akasha brothers.

Mr Kiogora has denied the allegations of fraud against his clients, saying they are pursuing their personal properties and not those of Mzee Akasha.