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Family fights over inheritance of Mbiu Koinange multi-billion estates

By Faith Karanja | Published Sun, April 15th 2018 at 00:00, Updated April 15th 2018 at 00:11 GMT +3

Court of Appeal is expected to rule on whether Mbiu Koinanage’s multibillion shilling estates will be sub-divided to his sons and all their stepmothers on April 27, 2018.

This is after his two sons George Koinange and David Koinange sought to proceed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal recognized their stepmothers Margret Njeri and Eddah Wanjiru to have a share of the estate valued at Sh17 billion among other property.

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The matter has been pending in courts for over 35 years and is now headed to Supreme Court if the Court of Appeal grants leave allowing the two sons to proceed to the highest court in Kenya.

The law firm of Mwenda Njagi & Co. Advocates has been appointed by the first son of the first family David Njunu to represent him at the Supreme Court if the leave will be granted.

“I hereby appoint the law firm of Mwenda Njagi in the High Court succession Cause No.527 of 1981 in the matter of the Estate of Mbiyu Koinange (deceased) and all attendants’ matters,” said Njunu.

Njagi was appointed on April 6; 2018. He is among 17 other lawyers who are representing different parties in the case.

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Court of Appeal had recognized the two widows as stepmothers’ of the two sons of Koinange and that they are entitled to a share of the estate.

They were aggrieved by the said decision which they said was made in bad faith.

Beneficiaries of the estate of the deceased as set out by the decision of the Court of Appeal are David Njunu Koinange, Paul Mbatia Koinange, George Kihara, Mary Wambui, Elizabeth Waruinu, Isaac Njunu, Solomon Kinahara, Florence Wambui, David Waiganjo, Lenna Wajiku and Eddah Wanjiru and their families.

In affidavit filed by David Waiganjo the Co-Administrator of the estate of the late Mbiyu Koianange, the Court of Appeal at Nairobi had directed that the matter be remitted back to the High Court for re-distribution of the estate by a judge other than Justice Musyoka to the beneficiaries.

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“The matter was mentioned on January 17, 2018 before Muchelule who directed the parties to file and serve their affidavits and submissions on their proposed mode of distribution within 30 days,” said Waiganjo.

He added that Koinange died intestate, was polygamous and he is advised by an advocate that the deceased personal and household effects and the residue of the net estate should be divided among the houses according to the number of children in each house, adding any surviving spouse as an additional unit to the number of children.

“I am further advised that where the intestate during his lifetime paid or gave any property to his beneficiary, that property should be taken into account in determining the share of the intestate estate to be allocated to child, grandchildren or the house,” he said.

He added that according to the Court of Appeal’s judgement, the deceased’s family is made up to four houses: the house of Loise Njeri Mbiyu(deceased) with five units, the house of Rith Damaries Wambui with five units, the house of Margret Njeri with one Unit and the house of Eddah Wanjiru with one unit.

Waiganjo in his affidavit added that the estate should accordingly be distributed among the beneficiaries according to the number of units in each household.

He continued that distribution should be done equitably and not equally because the circumstances with each individual are vastly different, for example grandchildren should not inherit the same portion as a child of the deceased due to the proximity of the relationship.

All sons and widows have come up with their affidavits and proposals of how they want the properties to be divided.

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Other lawyers who are handling this matters are Beatrice Kariuki, Ahmednasir Abdikadir, Muriu Mungai, Cecile Miller, Kimani Kiarie, Kangethe Waitere ,Muriithi Kirera among others.

For 36 years, the Koinange family has been fighting over the vast wealth left by Peter Mbiyu Koinange (deceased), who was a very influential figure in the first post-independence regime in Kenya.

Mbiyu Koinange acquired and accumulated massive wealth, particularly prime land in Kiambu, Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa counties, in all totaling to almost 6,000 acres worth billions of shillings.

Unfortunately, that wealth has turned out to be the apple of discord in his family. Since Koinange’s death on 3rd September 1981, his family has been fighting acrimoniously over dependents, and their respective shares of the property.

The litigation over his estate has spawned countless petitions, objections and applications for one relief or another, ultimately leading to the appeal. Even the deceased’s grandchildren and third parties joined the fray, staking all manner of claims to portions of the estate.

Margaret Njeri Mbiyu started cohabiting with Mbiyu Koinange in 1968 and solemnized their marriage under the Marriage Act, (repealed) on 20th March 1971. Margaret did not have any children with Mbiyu Koinange but she adopted two, namely Moses Njunu Mbiyu and Lydia Wambui Mbiyu, after the death of Mbiyu Koinange. She was separated from Mbiyu Koinange and living in Mombasa, but came back to one of his farms (Ehothia farm), after he died.

Family members had told the court Margaret was not a widow or beneficiary of the estate of Mbiyu Koinange and was not entitled to any share of the estate because the deceased divorced her, after which she married his brother, Charles Karuga Koinange. 

Court of Appeal overturned the ruling by High Court judge William Musyoka dated 25th September 2015. Musyoka had ruled that Margaret Njeri and Eddah Wanjiru were not widows of Mbiyu Koinange and would not be the administrators of the estate of the deceased.

Ruling on whether the matter will proceed to Supreme Court will be delivered on April 27, 2018.

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