In the midst of the three-year legal drama about the quest to remove Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu from office due to gross misconduct, one man’s name has consistently stuck like glue but not many Kenyans have taken notice.
Obscured by the battle of titans taking above him pitting the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on one side versus DCJ Mwilu, has been notorious suspected fraudster Arafat Ikumu.
Also known by his alias Rashid Koweh Omar, Ikumu, a 33-year-old suspected serial fraudster, has all along flown under the radar despite the many cases he faces in court and the mentioning of his name in suit papers. The man has also been photographed alongside various senior politicians.
Last month, when DCJ Mwilu’s matter came up again at the Constitutional Court where she is fighting off claims of irregular financial dealings, Ikumu’s name came up again with the nature of his contact with Justice Mwilu being questioned.
“Were there phone calls between her and persons facing charges and were they illegal securities to a loan? Only she can respond,” asked JSC lawyer Paul Muite.
While the nature of the relationship between DCJ Mwilu and Mr Ikumu and whether it was inappropriate will be determined in the corridors of justice in due time, the fact that he still continues with his alleged fraudulent activities despite being the subject of such a high-profile case is puzzling investigators.
Suave, always smartly dressed and well-connected, Mr Ikumu, who we understand can speak fluent Arabic and other foreign languages, has also declared interest in the Sabatia seat.
Sudanese army general
In April, the official Twitter handle of the Amani National Congress posted a picture of Mr Ikumu posing with party leader Musalia Mudavadi during a courtesy call and he was also among Western Kenya leaders who were in a meeting in Naivasha attended by Deputy President William Ruto.
Investigators say Ikumu lures unsuspecting victims by mostly masquerading as a Sudanese army general, who had fled his country, and the alleged con game involves using fake currency to lure victims into giving him money — commonly known as ‘wash wash’. And while other fraudsters concentrate on conning gullible foreigners, the DCI says Mr Ikumu usually targets Kenyan women. A gang linked to him, which is believed to be behind the current increase in fake currency, is being investigated for their role in the recent seizure of Sh60 million counterfeit money in US dollars at a warehouse in Industrial Area, Nairobi.
The money in 12 bundles declared as marketing flyers for non-existent African Global Food Supplies was destined to Muscat International Hotel in Oman.
The DCI has already sought the assistance of Interpol to facilitate the arrest of the Oman-based consignee – Hamood Abdullah Hamood.
Mr Ikumu’s gang mostly lies to its potential victims that they are in possession of large amounts of money printing material or foreign cash packages. The victim is then tricked into giving money that will be used to cater for certificates of origin, taxes or freight charges.
Other victims are shown stained fake dollars or blank notes. The syndicate then claims that the stains can only be removed using a particular device or specific chemicals which need to be bought at millions of shillings.
After the victim buys the idea the gang runs rings, constantly shifting goal-posts while at the same time soliciting more money. By the time the victim realises that he has been defrauded, it is often too late.
Last year in yet another case that mirrored this con game, Mr Ikumu was charged with fraud at Kiambu Law Courts before the Senior Resident Magistrate.
At the time of his arrest, the DCI said of Mr Ikumu: “The suspect has been targeting unsuspecting high-ranking females within the country, and in the course of their interactions lures them into non-existent deals thereby defrauding them millions of shillings.”
In 2018, Mr Ikumu was arrested after a two-day operation being in possession of Sh52 million in fake dollars and a forged firearm certificate. Other items found in his house at the time of arrest included 12 mobile phones, communication gadgets, travel documents, 98 rounds of ammunition and several log motor vehicles log books, including a Toyota Lexus, Toyota Axion, Toyota Mark X.
However, when presented in court he managed to escape from lawful custody while at the parking lot of Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi. He was consequently arrested and charged again this time for escaping from police custody. But despite his criminal background, Mr Ikumu continues to rub shoulders with leading politicians and influential people.