Gangster or gun dealer? Inside Ken Lugwili's controversial life

Ken Wycliff Okello Lugwili (brown jacket) is escorted to a waiting vehicle by police officers outside the Kilimani Police Station after his arrest on June 22, 2022. He was arrested after a stash of guns and ammunition was found at his company office at Applewood Park.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu I Nation Media Group

A swoop by auctioneers to attach the property of a city businessman over office rent arrears running into millions of shillings ended up pulling back the mask on his past dealings.

In what they described as a shocking twist, officers providing security to the auctioneers impounded an assortment of 22 guns and more than 500 bullets at Mr Ken Wycliffe Lugwili’s office at Applewood Park in Kilimani, Nairobi. And it emerged that Mr Lugwili, whose firearm dealership licence was suspended three years ago in unclear circumstances, was no stranger to controversy and shady dealings.

The Nation learnt that he has in the past been linked to land fraud, fake currency claims and impersonation of a former President’s aide with intent to defraud businesspeople of cash. He is also said to have controversially claimed ownership of a luxurious car that reportedly dropped off a woman who was killed in mysterious circumstances after attending a party at a Nairobi estate in 2011.   

Land transfer case

In 2014, a court sitting in Nairobi found Mr Lugwili guilty of transferring ownership of a Sh18 million piece of land in Lavington to himself —under the name Ken Lugwili — and his accomplice by the name Moses Ndirangu Itumia.

The land had reportedly been purchased by Mr Erwin August Stillhard and Mr Suminder Sonia Stillhard in 1993, who enjoyed its quiet possession until 2016, when they lost the original certificate of title, necessitating an application for a provisional certificate.

However, in 2018, court documents show that when the two landowners visited the rates department at the Nairobi City County offices, they were shocked to find that the rent payment account bore the names of Ken Lugwili and Moses Ndirangu Ituma.

On inquiry at the rates department, they learned that the second and third defendants had caused a change of the ownership details of the suit property from the plaintiffs’ names to their own names on February 2, 2018.

Aggrieved, the two owners filed a suit and, interestingly, the two suspects did not file any defence.

The court heard that Mr August and Mr Sonia had never sold or transferred the property to any person and was satisfied that the plaintiffs had proven their claim to the suit property.

Gun dealership

The Nation also learnt that Mr Luchiri was under investigation over matters related to gun dealership. When auctioneers forced their way into his offices in Kilimani, they stumbled upon seven escort magnum shotguns, one Benelli shotgun, five Quatro shotguns, one Savage shotgun, one Walther with two magazines, a revolver with two magazines, an Austia with two magazines, a ceska pistol with an empty magazine and a total of 565 ammunition of different calibres.

Also seized were 72 medium and 45 small tins of pointed head pellets, two tins of eley wasp, 25 pistol holsters, nine double magazine carriers, six single magazine carriers, 30 slings, five sniper altimate and 10 sniper torches.

Others include nine firearm handles, 12 studs, seven spacers, 15 flash aiders, seven firearm spanners, two firearm cleaning brushes, a certificate of registration as a firearm dealer, an expired Nairobi City County business permit number 1476629, two firearm movement registers and assorted firearm manuals.

Over Sh6 million rent arrears

Documents seen by the Nation show the suspect owed the tenant more than Sh6 million in rent arrears for the past two years, incurred at the rate of Sh173,000 per month. However, police records indicated the total amount as Sh4.9 million.

The landlord had delayed plans to evict Mr Lugwili in the hope that he would pay up his arrears eventually. The tenant had also reinforced his offices, dubbed Vic Technology System Limited, which he used as armoury for his firearms dealership.

The Nation learnt that Mr Lugwili was aware of the plan to auction his property and did not object to it.

He instead presented himself at Kilimani Police Station Wednesday accompanied by his lawyers after a hunt for him was launched on Tuesday evening.

Moments later, he was whisked away by detectives and handed to Anti-Terror Police Unit officials, who have taken over the investigation.

Mr Simon Mburu, one of Mr Lugwili’s lawyers, told journalists yesterday that their client had not been served with any court order by the time the auctioneers broke into his office, adding that their client’s dealership licence was valid at the time of the incident.

“That was not an auction, it was a break and enter. An auction has not even been conducted. We do not know the accusations yet. The issue is that the guns were recovered from his premises and brought here. He has not recorded any statement, he has not been interrogated, there is no accusation levelled against him,” added the lawyer.

Firearm dealer’s certificate

A police report stated that the officers found a firearm dealer’s certificate at the premises and an expired Nairobi County business permit.

Mr Lugwili has been operating as a licensed firearm dealer until August 3, 2019, when the Firearm Licensing Board (FLB) suspended his licence over concerns about his dealership business.

In a letter dated August 3, 2019, FLB chairman Charles Mukindia cited an ongoing investigation regarding Mr Lugwiri’s dealership business as the reason for the suspension.

On Wednesday, Mr Mukindia confirmed to the Nation that the weapons found at Mr Lugwili’s office were within the category where the board allows local dealers to sell in the country.

He, however, did not reveal the matter that prompted the suspension.

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