Kenyan Minister contradicts cops over Devani

April 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – Police have finally freed a man who was arrested after names on his passport matched those of runaway Triton Oil scandal prime suspect Yagnesh Devani, despite insistence by the Immigration Ministry that he was indeed the one.

The man was released early on Tuesday barely hours after Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang told Radio Citizen in an interview that his officers had ascertained that the held suspect was Mr Devani.

“I asked my officers who looked at his passport… looked at his thumb prints and compared them with the data we have and confirmed he is the one.  I don’t want to say more because the people who should be confirming that are my officers,” Mr Kajwang’ said.

But when asked to clarify the contradictory statement from the Immigration department and the police at a later press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the Minister laughed and left saying the issue was not related to the subject of his press briefing.

“You are asking about Devani… that is not related to this meeting,” he told journalists.

Earlier, reports from police headquarters had indicated that the detained man was to face charges for possessing multiple passports but not the Sh7.6billion oil scandal.

“He is a free man; he was set free this morning and he is no longer in our custody,” sources privy to the investigation told Capital News.

“Any further details should come from police headquarters, get in touch with the Spokesman,” the source added.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe had told Capital News on Tuesday morning:  “Our investigation has shown that the suspect is not Devani but we are investigating him on some other issues.”

That was before news of the release filtered to newsrooms.

On Monday, Mr Kiraithe told Capital News that fingerprint samples taken from the suspect did not match those of Mr Devani.

The suspect held since Friday was arrested soon after landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after officers thought he was the runaway billionaire businessman.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) categorically stated it was not involved [in any way] in the investigations of the man in question, although the commission is seeking Mr Devani on the oil scandal charges.

“The position is that our officers are not involved in this investigation; we have not been involved [by the police] and we are just reading about it on newspapers,” KACC Spokesman Mr Nicholas Simani told Capital News.

Briefs given to the police from the Interpol showed that Mr Devani was in London last week from where he left via India and later to Nairobi.

His Lawyer Katwa Kigen has equally denied his client is in Kenya and had even spoken to him on telephone.

He told reporters in Eldoret at the weekend that he had spoken to his client who assured him that he was not in the country or in anybody’s custody.

The government sought Interpol’s help to have Mr Devani, together with other directors of his Triton Petroleum Company arrested over the scandal in January last year after accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was contracted to carry out a forensic audit on the scope of the fraud that affected the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and the Kenya Pipeline Company.


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