A titanic battle is shaping up as five wives and concubines court the police and the provincial administration in the struggle for control of the estate of a 95-year-old reclusive Kiambu billionaire, long before he breathes his last.
Already battle lines have been drawn and the DCI headquarters put on notice as the two women claiming to be legally married to billionaire Thuo Gachogo position themselves for a stake of his empire.
At stake are apartments and commercial buildings scattered in Nairobi’s CBD, Nairobi West, South C, Westlands Ngara, Eastleigh, Thika Road, Kiambu, Ruiru, Githunguri and Ikinu as well as parcels of land.
An inventory of Gachogo’s wealth is as long as it is revealing. In Nairobi West Gachogo has 16 developed plots on each side of the road. He has several buildings along Mutundu Road in Westlands, more than an acre undeveloped plot in Ngara which is used as an open garage while in Eatleigh he holds the lease to the buildings that once housed post office near St Theresa. Gachogo made his millions as an open air mechanic who used his connections to win tenders to repair government vehicles. His specialty was panel beating at Ngara, Nairobi.
“I worked with him from 1968 for three years. Gachogo never took alcohol or smoked. During the Shifta war, he had a lucrative business panel beating military vehicles. His cover was blown later by another mechanic, Muiruri Laban who caused a story of the open air garage millionaire to be published. Gachogo decided to retire,” a 68-year-old confidant said.
So secretive is the billionaire that he has no phone and no member of the family has the whole inventory of his wealth portfolio and he has engaged agents and lawyers who collect millions in rent and deposit it in his bank accounts.
“Every time he is going to transact in a bank, the manager has to make special arrangement to receive the old man. He has no car to his name and moves around in a taxi driven by trusted allies,” a friend who has known Gachogo for years, disclosed.
The friend, who requested not to be named, further described how one of the wives was almost shot as angry relatives fought for money outside a bank in Kiambu.
The claimants of this empire are Gachogo’s first wife, Wambui, now deceased and survived by four children.
His second wife, Hannah Mwika is reported to have died in early 1990s, leaving behind four children.
The bitter contest is however between the third wife Naomi Wambui who has eight children and the fourth wife, Nancy Wanjiru, a mother of five children. The two wives are embroiled in a protracted tussle which has seen them knock on doors of police stations and Department of Criminal investigations.
One of the nastiest confrontation yet was witnessed outside a bank in Kiambu on January 22 when the billionaire went to withdraw Sh2 million for his big family’s up keep.
“On January 18, I was beaten by Peter Thuo one of the sons of my co-wife, Naomi. He insulted and threatened to eliminate me. I saw with my own eyes as my husband who is frail being bundled into a police vehicle and driven off,” Ms Wanjiru said. She claims that when she reported the assault at Kiambu Police Station, she was locked up and later denied a P3 form until she reported the matter to DCI headquarters in Nairobi.
Ndung’u has a different version of events and accuses Wanjiru of being Gachogo’s concubine who had on the fateful day waylaid the old man because he was withdrawing Sh2 million for a project he is undertaking in Eastleigh.
“The police and bank officials were alarmed. It is true I tackled her but I did not threaten her with a gun. I am licensed gun holder and cannot harm this woman with it. However if she trespasses to our home in Ikinu, she should not blame me if she is harmed,” Ndung’u said.
On January 22, Wanjiru secured a Police Order to Arrest (Police42) issued by Kiambu Police Station directing the officer in charge of Ikinu AP post to apprehend Ndung’u for assault and causing actual bodily harm to her. He has yet to be arrested to date.
There are various versions of what happened on that day. According to Wanjiru, 55, who says she is Gachogo’s fourth wife she had been called to get money for upkeep and school fees. “Mzee had told me he was to give me Sh800, 000. However immediately my husband came and before he could give me the money, one of my step sons, Peter Ndung’u attacked me.”
Josiah Gachogo, who is a son of Gachogo’s second wife, Mwika explained that his father was inaccessible as he was residing in Ikinu, in his fourth wife’s compound.
“This family has been hostile. Everybody lives in fear and my son Thomas Kariuki has been attacked on a number of occasions for siding with my father’s fourth wife.”
Ndung’u however told Sunday Standard that he had no problem with the family’s of the first and the second wife but was opposed to claims by Nancy that she was the billionaire’s wife.
“My father is a billionaire. Many women some former girlfriends and concubines claiming to be wives have emerged. My father has been manipulated by these women because he is very old. I am happy he no longer ventures out of home. He is out of reach of these claimants. I have reported Nancy to the CID for forging my father’s document to lease and sell some of his property.”
He added,” I have the power of attorney to act on behalf of my father. My father is a billionaire and I now control his estate. We have revoked some lease agreements and sale of plots done against my father’s wish.”
When the issue of Gachogo’s wives and rightful heirs emerged, a meeting was convened in 2016. During the meeting held on December 19, 2016, and attended by the aged patriarch and ten members of his family and two administrators, Ndung’u insisted that Wanjiru was not his father’s wife.
In a meeting held at County Deputy commissioner’s office on December 19, 2016, Ruiru, Gachogo said Wanjiru was his wife but warned her not to continue with a building she had been constructing at Ruiru without the family consent.
However, Wanjiru produced a document prepared on October 25, 1995 detailing how her father Gibson Kuria Njoroge and Kariuki Gachogo had negotiated her dowry and she was married according to Kikuyu traditions.