Jacob Juma owned one car, was often late with rent
In private, Juma did not lead the billionaire lifestyle he made the public believe he lived through his claims that he was one of the richest men in Kenya.
Whereas he claimed to be chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce Phantom, one of the most prestigious and expensive cars in the world, he actually drove himself in a second-hand Mercedes Benz.
Whenever the Benz broke down, like it did a month before he was killed, he depended on the services of a humble taxi for days.
Other than his mansion in Karen named Mungore Olukuba Palace, a fortress with five all-ensuite bedrooms, served by ten servants and with most fittings imported from Italy, Canada and Australia, there is no other property known to be his.
The apartment in Westlands that his friends nicknamed Penthouse, is not located in a particularly exclusive property and neither is it an actual penthouse but a three-bedroomed, fully-furnished flat on the third floor of a block of apartments.
This unknown part of his life comes from his friends, family and former associates who described him as a man so shrewd and street-smart that he could fake any document.
According to one of his closest partners, Juma was “a genius in bypassing systems, buying signatures and most importantly outsmarting almost all his business associates”.
Whereas he had the money to import designer suits from fashion houses of note and have his clothes laundered at the five-star Serena Hotel, he was also a man who struggled with unpaid bills for years ranging from legal fees, debts and rent.
Rarely did any of his cases start and end with one law firm as many of them found him irritating, especially when he bragged about his wealth yet failed to pay their legal fees.
“Juma shifted lawyers because he didn’t want to pay their full fees or along the way they discovered that he had lied or forged key documents,” one of his former lawyers claimed.
Unlike many wealthy and powerful men who kept a single trusted lawyer or law firm for almost all their legal issues, Juma frequently changed his even in a single case.
Some of the lawyers or law firms who acted for him include J.P Machira and Advocates, Steven Kibunja, Issa Nyakundi, Kyalo Mbombu and Ahmednasir Abdullahi.
Such was his notoriety within the courts that a petition to have him declared a vexatious litigant, a litigant who habitually and persistently and without any reasonable grounds sues, was filed at one point.
Jacob Juma owned one car
Once a person is declared a vexatious litigant, they are effectively barred from launching further cases without obtaining the leave of the court.
Many of his cases revolved around land disputes; failure to honour contracts and tenders and, later in life, corruption.
A search for the name Jacob Juma in KenyaLaw.Org, a website that has a database of cases filed in court, gives you 1,330 results, one of the highest number of mentions in the website for any single individual.
The suits he filed would make for an interesting legal read especially coming from a man who never graduated from university.
For instance in October 2007, he sought special damages for Sh3 billion, being loss of business, after police confiscated machinery plant and equipment from his firm, Juma Construction Company Limited, from February 1, 2003 to November 20, 2006.
In the case, Juma had been arrested by officials of the now defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority and later charged with various offences — from forgery to uttering false documents — just after the then new Narc administration declared his company a cowboy contractor.
Along the way, he built a list of enemies both small and powerful. But he was not a good man to cross.
Some former associates said he went to great lengths to bring down those he crossed swords with, either through courts or business connections.
“You couldn’t find any man as vindictive as Juma,” a former business partner said.
The list of former business associates or friends whom he never saw eye-to-eye with range from politicians, businessmen to former lovers.
There is no better example than Hassan Zubeidi, a businessman whose downfall Juma is credited with orchestrating.
Mr Zubeidi, Juma’s associates said, has fallen from a billionaire working from the comfort of his Dubai Bank office to a man carrying out business from his car.
Mr Zubeidi and Juma used to be very close friends with Juma being the gentleman who picked Zubeidi from the airport after his travels. The two often spent their leisure time together.
When the two differed over a piece of land, each vowed to bring the other down.
Juma later wrote to the Central Bank of Kenya, claiming that his friend’s bank was engaging in malpractices.
In the letter, Mr Juma said a market intelligence report indicated that Dubai Bank had been operating below the required liquidity ratio for a “considerable period of time”.
Juma refused to give the source of the market intelligence report because as he was later to confess, he had obtained the information from the owners and top managers who used to be his longtime associates. The letter dated May 17, 2015 would precipitate events culminating finally in the closure of the bank.