Youngest widow defends will in battle for Kibor's vast property

Eunita Chilimo, the fourth wife of the late Jackson Kibor answers questions  at the Eldoret High Court Uasin Gishu County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The late Uasin Gishu politician Jackson Kibor left behind a written will detailing how he wished his vast estate to be shared among his 29 children and widows.

The High Court in Eldoret heard that the deceased was mentally sound when he gave instructions on how he wanted his multimillion-shilling assets distributed among his family members, churches, squatters and persons he owed.

Lawyer Jonah Korir, who drafted the will, tabled the document being contested by a section of the family, including Kibor’s second and third wives and their children.

Ken Maiyo, representing some of the objectors including Kibor’s eldest son Philip, told Justice Reuben Nyakundi that his clients want the will to be examined by a forensic document examiner to determine its validity. 

Korir claimed that months before Kibor’s death, he called him for a meeting at his daughter’s Elgon View residence on the outskirts of Eldoret town, where he gave him instructions to draft his will.

He claimed to have represented Kibor on several cases, especially at the Environment and Land Courts, but declined to mention the cases when asked by the objector’s lawyers during cross-examination. 

Parking yard agreement

Korir, who is also listed as one of the executors of the estate in the contested will, dismissed claims that the farmer was not of mentally sound.

“To the best of my knowledge, the late Kibor was of sound mind at the time the will was drafted, and he could comprehend what he was doing. He gave his instructions in the Nandi/Keiyo dialect while I translated his wishes into English,” said Korir.

He further told the court that the deceased’s will was executed on February 27, 2021, at the Eldoret High Court’s parking yard and witnessed by two lawyers namely Joseph Songok and David Korir.

The lawyer said the tycoon invited him to his rural home in Kabenes village in Soy Sub County, where he had hosted his close family members, friends and church members and politicians.

He said Kibor wanted to disclose the content of the will to his family members and wanted him to read the summary of the contents to them.

Korir argued that some discrepancies pointed out in the will by the objectors’ advocates, including different dates, were only “bonafide errors”.

“I cannot give the specific details of the parcels of land mentioned in the will because the family members understand the bequests of the deceased, and my instructions, were to capture the wishes of my client (Kibor) and not to conduct due diligence on his property,” argued Korir when questioned about the details of the property in the will.

Vast wealth

The late farmer’s wealth includes business premises in Eldoret town’s Central Business District, prime plots in Elgon View estate in Eldoret, Nakuru, Karen estate in Nairobi and Nyali in Mombasa.

He also left behind moveable and unmovable assets, bank deposits and thousands of acres of agricultural land in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nakuru counties.

The 29 objectors in the succession battle are represented by 10 lawyers, led by Ken Maiyo and Nixon Koitui, while the tycoon’s youngest widow Eunitah Kibor is represented by Karen Chesoo.

Eunitah, 43, also wants to be the sole administrator of her husband’s estate, claiming that she is the only widow of the late Kibor as her husband had divorced his two other wives. Mary Kibor, the first wife, died in 2010.

Eunitah lodged a petition for the grant of letters of administration of the estate, stating that her husband’s will named her as the executor of the estate. 

She added that the vast estate needed comprehensive administration failure to which it would waste away.

“I am the sole surviving spouse of the deceased and, therefore, the first in order of preference to be appointed and issued the grant of letters of administration. The estate could waste away since the deceased’s land over 2,000 acres has outsiders, who are starting to encroach,” says Eunitah in her petition.

She is also accusing her step-children, who are the objectors in the case, of meddling with the estate and evicting her from her matrimonial home and land.

She has asked the court to adopt the will she tabled, saying that it reflected her husband’s true wishes.

However, her step-children and the other widows (second and third wives) have dismissed the purported will.

Naomi, the third widow, says the will could have been made out of fraud or coercion, noting that her late husband was critically ill at the material time and was not in control of himself. She claims the signature was forged.

“On the date the will is purported to have been written, the deceased was sick, having contracted Covid-19 in 2020. Save for Deputy President William Ruto who visited him the deceased was not in a position to interact with other people or visit a law firm to write a will,” she argues.

Her statement was reiterated by other objectors, who claimed that their father’s purported will was vague, inconsistent and void of uncertainty.

“On the day the deceased is purported to have executed the will, he was neither in the presence of the purported witnesses nor of any of the propounders of the purported will. The will also purports to make bequests of property the deceased does not own or that are nonexistent,” the objectors argue.

The children further accuse their stepmother and lawyer Korir of engaging in a scheme to waste the estate. “It is strange how the advocate who prepared the will constituted himself as an advocate and executor of the will at the same time. The executor is seriously conflicted,” reads the affidavit of one of the sons.

The children argue that their father’s wishes earlier communicated to them by his advocate, the second petitioner, were different from the contents of the purported will.

Divorce cases

Jepchirchir Kibor, a daughter of the deceased, is also challenging her stepmother’s petition, terming it a falsehood. She argues that her father had four wives, one deceased and three widows.

She is asking the court that each household be represented in the administration of the estate, saying that each was an equal beneficiary.

Although Kibor maintained all his wives in his various farms, he had sought divorce from his two wives.

In October 2017, an Eldoret court dissolved his marriage with his second wife, Josephina Jepkoech, a woman he had married in February 1965.

With the succession case in place, Josephina has asked the court to ascertain matrimonial property acquired during her marriage with Kibor, divide the property and her portion hived off and register it in her name.

He also divorced his third wife, Naomi, in December 2018. They had married in 1975 under the Nandi customary law.

Kibor died on March 16, last year. According to the death certificate in court, the farmer died of cardiorespiratory failure.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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