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How Blogger Nyakundi Defeated Victoria Bank In Alleged Sh17.5M Extortion Case



Blogger Cyprian Nyakundi.

In January 2020, the headlines splashed the blogger  Cyprian Nyakundi and his assistant Emmanuel Nyamweya had been arrested in Westgate in what police said was an extortion attempt. In criminal case No. 144 of 2020, the two were jointly charged for trying to extort Sh17.5M from Victoria Commercial Bank. The end seemed dark for the two who had unknowingly walked into a police trap thinking they were going to meet bank officials to ‘get their side of the story’ over inconvenient blog posts on Nyakundi’s blog.

One year later on 11th March 2021, the whole case took a new twist when a Nairobi High Court issued a judgment on Constitutional Petition No. E284 of 2020 threw out the evidence against Nyakundi saying they were illegally obtained by entrapment hence not admissible in court.

Judge Mrima while issuing the judgment quashed the decision by the DCI to charge Nyakundi and accomplice on the basis the evidence was obtained through entrapment which is in violation of Article 50(4) of the constitution. The judge also prohibited the prosecution of Nyakundi and accomplice in Milimani Chief Magistrate Criminal Court case by the DCI on the basis of trashed evidence.

But just how did things get to where they’re? How bank officials, DCI and other interested parties got into the table, arrested the blogger and at last left Victoria Bank and DCI with york on their faces?

According to court documents seen by Kenya Insights, Nyakundi first came into contact with a DCI detective on 23rd November 2019 over a complaint made by Harish Mawjee over articles he had posted articles he had posted on his website.

DCI wrote to the Communications Authority for the preservation of the blog page and on 22nd November 2019 prepared a criminal defamation charge sheet against Nyakundi before forwarding it to the DPP to authorize arrest, this was denied as there was a conservatory order in high court in pursuant to the cybercrime law.

Kanji Damji Pattni, Founder Victoria Bank.

On 3rd January 2020, Nyakundi published again on his blog a story about Victoria Bank CEOstory about Victoria Bank CEO Yogesh Pattni.

Yogesh contacted Dharmesh Shah about the blogs. Dharmesh contacted Nurdin Tinta Akasha whom the blogger described as son of a drug dealerson of a drug dealer in his blog. Nurdin was approached by Shah to establish contact and initiate a meeting with Nyakundi according to court documents.

It is then on 9th January 2020 that Tinta approached a DCI agent whom had earlier investigated Cyprian Nyakundi on a separate case. He wanted the DCI to ‘give advice on the way forward about the case.’ At this moment, no formal complaint had been lodged by the bank or officials in the respect so it was more of a friendly request and not professional.

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The DCI agent then advised Akasha to get Nyakundi onboard and find out the rationale behind the continued blogging ‘on issuers that were not factual.’

On 10th January 2020, the DCI approached Nicholas Asego a journalist with the Standard Media Group since he was known to Nyakundi and would naturally win his trust. Asego was tasked to bring Nyakundi to the table with Victoria Bank. Asego was made aware that the DCI had plotted a discreet operation and that the DCI didn’t want to get involved in it directly.

Asego initiated the talks with Nyakundi who gave him his personal assistant’s number for communication on the ‘deal’. Asego then forwarded the number to Akasha who meet with the DCI and shared the number.

In the meeting, it was agreed that only one Sammy was to engage Nyakundi while the stint operation was still active.

On 12th January 2020, Tinta and Sammy invited Nyakundi for a meeting with the bank’s CEO Dharmesh. In the meeting, the CEO made Nyakundi aware that he was sent by the bank’s officials and pleaded with him to stop the blogging about the bank. It is at this meeting that the CEO asked Nyakundi how much he wanted to be paid in order to pull down the articles from his site.

Sammy and Tinta were to negotiate the price with Nyakundi and communicate to Dharmesh later on. It’s at this meeting that Nyakundi quoted an astronomical amount of Sh30M. Tinta and Sammy haggled with Nyakundi with a view of making the deal look more believable. He would then give a figure of Sh20M which upon further negotiations was lowered to Sh17.5M. Nyakundi gave a condition of meeting the directors of the company in a bid to ensure that Sammy and Tinta were genuine representatives.

Victoria Bank CEO Yogesh Pattni.

They scheduled another meeting for 13th January 2020 as a follow up to their agreement. The meeting didn’t materialize and Nyakundi went on with his blogging activities.

It was on 15th January when things took peak, the DCI through Sammy who was the one charged to be in constant communication with Nyakundi, planned another meeting on 16th where they all agreed to meet with the directors of the bank at their Westlands branch, Fortis Towers.

He attended the meeting but would later come to realize that the DCI had planted secret cameras in the boardroom where he was meeting the directors. They wanted him to bring down the price but he refused, one of the directors then said the amount was too much but promised it would be paid by 20th January by the CEO.

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Nyakundi told the court that after cutting the deal, DCI agents asked Victoria Bank to prepare and serialize Sh1M for the operation.

On 20th as agreed, the meeting was set and unknown to him, Nyakundi and his assistant walked into the DCI trap where the Dharmesh. Tinta and Sammy laid an ambush and had Dharmesh deliver the cash held in a small shopping bag to Nyakundi on the 3rd floor of Westgate shopping mall before they were arrested.

The court however, threw away the case arguing that it was a case of entrapment and that Nyakundi was lured into committing a crime that he wouldn’t have committed.

In arguing the case, high court blamed the DCI for entrapment, in the first instance, the DCI agent  gave an advice to Akasha even before a complaint was formally made, it was the DCI who suggested bringing Nyakundi on the table. It was also through the DCI that Victoria Bank got into touch with Nyakundi, the DCI agent got in touch with Asego the journalist who by trust got a contact to Nyakundi.

While the DCI was emphatic that he didn’t want any involvement in the case after the link up, the court noted that it appears from his affidavit that there was an active contact between the DCI, Akasha and Victoria Bank. The judge raised questions as to why the DCI didn’t reveal details of when the initial complaint was made, how the DCI knew about the secret meetings between Nyakundi and the bank such that they were able to plant secret cameras in the boardroom.

Tinta Akasha.

For advising Tinta to bring Nyakundi to the table and organizing how he would be brought to the table by getting to him through Asego, the court said, “There is no doubt that Cpl. Odhiambo being an experienced officer foresaw the possibility and the opportunity to eventually arrest and charge the petitioners. He utilized it.”

The court questioned if it would’ve been possible for Nyakundi and accomplice to still have committed the crime were it not for the intervention of the DCI?

In reaction to the first complaint by the bank where the same officer had preferred criminal charges against Nyakundi for his blogs, the court determined that there was no evidence that Nyakundi had attempted to extort the bank. The court was convinced that Nyakundi had not made any attempts whatsoever to reach out to the bank with a view of discussing the matter in any way.

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The court also faulted the DCI for taking upon himself to deal with the matter long before a formal complaint by the bank was made by the bank by giving Tinta advice to bring Nyakundi on the table.

Court also exonerated Nyakundi from the extortion claims saying it was the bank who made an offer and not the blogger who asked for money. “The evidence is clear that the offer was made by agents of the complainants(Victoria Bank). They’re the ones who offered to give the 1st petitioner(Nyakundi) money to pull down the blog. The 1st petitioner gave them an outrageous offer just to put them off. The complainants haggled to make the matter appear genuine.”

It continues, “There’s no evidence of the petitioners sought for the audience of the complainants even after their first meeting. All further and sustained efforts to get to the petitioners were undertaken by the agents of the police and the complainants.”

“There’s therefore no evidence suggesting that the petitioners would have still committed the offence had it not been the enormous effort of the police and their agents which agents were also the agents of the complainants.” The judgment read.

“Had it not been (DCI) advising, linking up Nuri with the petitioners and being firmly behind the whole encounter, there’s no evidence that the petitioners would have nevertheless taken any steps to commit the offence. The whole ordeal was masterminded by the DCI.” The court concluded that it was the intention of the DCI to entrap Nyakundi from the onset and faulted the police for going beyond the limits of acceptable police conduct and investigations and right into the realm of entrapment.

“I have gone through the investigations diary and the witnesses statements in this matter. All the evidences intended to be relied on by the prosecution in the criminal case is on the entrapment. Without such evidence, there’s no other evidence to support the charge preferred against the petitioners.”

“An order of prohibition be and hereby prohibiting the prosecution of the petitioners in Milimani Chief Magistrates Court Criminal Criminal No.144 of 2020 on the basis of the evidence having been obtained through entrapment.” The court ruled.

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