A Kenyan businesswoman vanished just seconds after she got court orders to prevent some oil marketers from dumping 100,000 metric tonnes worth roughly Sh17 billion, sparking a significant controversy.
According to reports, Ann Njeri Njoroge, the businesswoman at the center of the story, went to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road in Nairobi on Thursday to give a statement regarding who owned the oil that was sourced from Turkey.
Njeri’s family was unable to locate her, according to Cliff Ombeta, one of his attorneys. They claimed that she departed the station after making her statement, according to the DCI officials.
“Her phone is off and no one can trace her. The officers say they don’t know anything about her. 24 hours later Njeri has not been presented before any court,” said Ombeta.
Two companies Galana Energies Ltd and Aramco Trading Fujairah have laid claim to the 100,000 metric tons of the said diesel.
Njeri filed a case at the Mombasa High Court on October 8 and successfully stopped the Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Pipeline from offloading the diesel.
Justice Magare Kizito barred the vessel from leaving the port and also stopped the discharging and offloading of the oil. The court directed KPA, KPC and Galana to file responses in 48 hours.
Ombeta said Njeri had imported the diesel with his Israel partner from Turkey and passed through the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
He said that Njeri’s phone had been switched off and the DCI had denied having her in their custody despite statements showing she had recorded a statement with them.
Ombeta said lawyer David Chumo who accompanied her to the DCI headquarters confirmed they left her with investigation officers.
“So how can they deny they don’t know where she is?” said Ombeta. He said the authorities and the two companies have been questioning where Njeri got the money to import diesel worth such a colossal sum.
“Njeri imported 100,000 metric tons of diesel worth Sh17 billion which was to be sold to any party that was willing to buy from her. She is aware of the rules of how you can import fuel when it is Government to Government and had found few individuals who tried to help her since she has no import permit,” said Ombeta.
The lawyer said Njeri has been in the import and export business of fuel for the past 33 years and she has a good credit record with her financiers.
He said that the ship was docked at the high seas and was waiting for Njeri to source for a buyer in Kenya since she had no import license.
“All the ports she passed show she paid the insurance. So who is Aramco and where did they appear from to claim the fuel yet they have no paper trail,” said Ombeta.
He said on November 4, Njeri was informed that the ship had docked at port yet she had not authorised it to dock in Kenya.
Ombeta said Njeri reported the matter to port police and was given an OB number, and two days later, she was told that Galana and Aramco were claiming ownership of the fuel.
In their response, Galana Chief Executive Officer Anthony Munyasya said they are licensed by the Energy Petroleum and Regulatory Authority (Epra) to import petroleum products and also have a transport and storage agreement with KPC for fuels arriving in Kenya.
Munyasya said the government, under International Oil Companies (IOC), authorised Emirates National Oil Company, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and Aramco as the sole suppliers of oil to Kenya.
He said the IOC, under the government-to-government arrangement, have nominated Gulf Energy Ltd, Galana Energies, and Oryx Energies as their counterparts to import petroleum products into Kenya.
He said Aramco nominated them to supply automotive gas Oil (AGO) and they entered into a tripartite agreement with KPC and KCB to finance the consignment.
Munyasya said they chattered MT Haigui from the Hotlen Shipping Ltd partnership which was loaded with 93,460.46 metric tons of AGO at the port of Yaribu Saudi Arabia on September 28.
“The vessel went to Jeddah anchorage on September 28, 2023 for cargo doping and arrived at the port of Mombasa on October 11, 2023.”
He said the diesel imported by Njeri was not one specified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Munyasya said it was not possible for a vessel that loaded at the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to have docked in Mombasa within two days.
According to the Standard, when the ship arrived in the country on October 11, the businesswoman was informed that there was government to government deal was already in place.
“The vessel arrived in the country on October 11, but when Njeri was informed about the government-to-government deal, she decided to look for another dealer in Uganda,” the contact said.
“The Ugandan dealer agreed and reached out to energy regulators in Kenya so that she can use local facilities to offload but they were denied.”
The contact explained that when the Ugandan deal flopped, Njeri started scouting for other dealers from other countries including Somali land and Tanzania.
Njeri was, however, shocked to learn that the vessel was heading to Kipevu where the oil products are usually offloaded. “She was shocked because she had not given authority for the products to be offloaded. Usually, about seven documents are required so that the vessel can offload its cargo,” she said.
“Njeri suspected that someone has was using forged documents to offload forcing her to report the matter to the police and which was booked in an OB 21/04/11/2023, at KPA Police Station Mombasa.
“… a resident of Kilifi and Dubai and a business person who imports petroleum products under the company of Ann’s Import and Exports Company Limited. She submits a report that last month on 11/10,/2023, a ship by the name Hagui docked at Mombasa KPA port with a consignment of oil products and was in the process of getting the permit to sell the petroleum products to the government.”