Man sues his uncle for allegedly grabbing late father's prime land

Jeffrey Kipkemboi claims his uncle fraudulently transferred disputed land to himself. [iStockphoto]

A middle-aged man is suing his uncle for allegedly grabbing his late father's prime land and developing his mansion on the disputed parcel.

Testifying before Justice Jane Onyango in Eldoret, Jeffrey Kipkemboi claimed that his uncle, Mr Harrison Machio, had illegally and fraudulently transferred 0.19 hectares of the disputed parcel of land in Elgon View Estate to himself immediately after his father's death.

Mr Kipkemboi's father Salim Wanyonyi Machio was a renowned lawyer practicing in Eldoret until his demise in February 2011.

Mr Kipkemboi, an administrator of his late father's estate in a succession case pending at the High Court, claimed that his uncle colluded with the land registrar by illegally deleting his father's names in the register and replacing it with his name.

He has also sued a commercial bank claiming that his uncle had gone ahead to secure a loan with the title deed of the disputed parcel then used the money to put up a mansion on the land.

Mr Kipkemboi claimed the move was aimed at disinheriting the beneficiaries of their father's estate.

"The beneficiaries have suffered irreparable and substantial loss as a result of the illegal transfer. The fraudulent transfer of the property known as Eldoret Municipality Block 14/970 in favour of the first defendant was in total disregard of the interests of the beneficiaries of the deceased," Mr Kipkemboi told the court.

He asked the judge to revert the property to his father's estate, contending that it was included in the inventory of the late lawyer. He said the issues surrounding the disputed land have derailed distribution of the estate, over a decade after his father's death.

"I was away in South Africa from 2014 to 2018 when I came back to the country, only to learn that my uncle had built a mansion on my late father's land. At the time, my step-mother was in charge of the estate. I ask this court to help me get my father's property back to his estate for purposes of settling the succession case that is pending in court," Mr Kipkemboi appealed.

Mr Eric Kalande, a credit manager at Housing Finance Company, while defending the financial institution against the allegations of colluding with Mr Machio, told the court that their client merited to be granted a loan.

Mr Kalande told the court that their client had taken a Sh8 million loan secured with the land's title deed, and that Mr Machio was up to date with the repayment.

"A dispute of ownership of the land is not valuation of the property," Mr Kalande told the court.

In his defence, Mr Machio in court papers said his late brother had approached him in 1999, asking for help with his mortgage as he had financial challenges and the financier was threatening to repossess his house.

He told the court that they agreed that he would help his brother and in exchange he would get the said plot.

He claimed that he paid the required Sh300,000 to the bank (Housing Finance) and his brother began the transfer process by surrendering the original title deed to him.

Mr Machio further said he fenced the land and put up the house when his brother was still alive. He claimed that his brother even attended the house-warming party.

"My brother and I had a very close relationship and when I was away for work in Lokichoggio, he would supervise the construction of my house and we would often have dinner till late at the night," he said.

He said since the land had accumulated land rates of up to Sh800,000, his brother had been unable to effect the transfer immediately in the year 2000.

The transfer and registration was completed after the entry of new county governments, when they gave land owners waivers. This slashed the amount owing to Sh181,000, which Mr Machio paid. Hearing continues on June 26.