A man arrested in Nakuru on Saturday for allegedly impersonating a magistrate and swindling members of the public of Sh1.6 million has a litany of cases stretching through three counties in the South Rift region.
Victor Kiprono Ngeno has in the last two years fooled ordinary people, administrators and police officers in Kericho, Bomet and Narok counties while passing himself off as a Nakuru-based principal magistrate.
“He has several cases in the region, ranging from impersonation to obtaining money by false pretense. We would not be surprised when more people come out now that he has been busted,” said a senior police officer in Bomet privy to the matter.
In local nightclubs, he is known as a generous man who moves around with wads of cash and treats revellers to rounds of drinks into the wee hours.
But the man’s luck seems to have run out when he was arrested on July 9 in Bomet County for impersonation and presenting false information to a police officer.
In a daring move, Mr Ngeno reportedly walked into Mogosiek Police Station on July 8 and reported that he had been robbed of Sh500,000 in broad daylight by an Administration Police officer known to him.
In an incident recorded under Occurrence Book (OB) number 12/08/07/2021, he claimed to be a principal magistrate and alleged that the officer and a female companion robbed him of the money and pushed him out of a moving car near Boito trading centre in Bomet.
He claimed to have been drinking with the two at Litein trading centre in neighbouring Kericho County. They were supposed to drop him off at his home in Belgut constituency but instead took a different route and robbed him on the Litein-Mogosiek-Bomet highway. He claimed that on reaching Boito, the police officer, who was driving, stopped the vehicle and held the complainant's hands.
"Meanwhile, the lady took Sh500,000 which was in a brown envelope belonging to the complainant, from his hand, threw him out of the vehicle and drove off," a police statement said on the incident as narrated by Mr Ngeno.
Mr Ngeno told the police that he was rescued by boda boda riders, who took him home after the incident.
The woman was arrested by the police but was later released when it emerged that the man had misled investigators.
Police wondered why Mr Ngeno was taken home after being rescued instead of going to the nearest police station to report the matter.
Mr Ngeno also did not have any injuries consistent with being pushed out of a moving vehicle.
Even as he claimed to be a magistrate – a man conversant with the law – the incident was booked at the station at 11am the following day, 22 hours after the alleged incident occurred.
'In the company of senior officials'
He was later arrested and charged in a Sotik court with impersonation and providing false information to a police officer.
“The man is always in the company of senior government officers and the police while imbibing in clubs. There is no reason we would have suspected him of impersonation. He is such a generous man,” said a waiter at a bar in Litein.
Late last year, he escaped a police dragnet at a nightclub in Bomet when he drove off a few minutes before detectives stormed in to arrest him over an undisclosed crime.
“It is not possible that he has been working alone as he is well known and is treated well in social places because we all know him to be a magistrate. We were shocked when it emerged that he has all along managed to fool all of us,” said Bomet town resident Kibet Tonu.
Mr Ngeno, who was arrested on Saturday by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in a sting operation, is alleged to have been posing as a brother of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter.
Samuel Soi, a complainant in the case, claimed that he lost Sh1.6 million to Mr Ngeno after he promised to secure jobs for his children at Kenya Pipeline Company. He also claimed that he had separately paid him Sh100,000 after he promised to expedite a court case.
The offence is said to have been committed between 2018 and 2019, according to Anthony Sunguti, who is in charge of the Nakuru County DCI office.
He is also alleged to have been in possession of several fake letters from the Judicial Service Commission while claiming to be recruiting court clerks.