Five Appellate Judges to hear bank's dispute with Kenyatta's relative over coffee farm

A dispute between Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and a relative of first President Jomo Kenyatta is set to be heard and determined by five appellate judges.

This was after all parties in the 27-year-old dispute over the sale of 434-acre coffee farm in Thika agreed that the case be referred to Court of Appeal President Justice William Ouko to appoint five judges to settle the dispute.

The case was scheduled for hearing before appellate judges Roseline Nambuye, Asike Makandia and Kathurima M’Inoti, but lawyer Kyalo Mbobu representing Kenyatta’s cousin Kungu Muigai made an application that the bench be expanded.

Several decisions

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“The case is likely to affect several decisions that have been made by various courts relating to the subject matter. And in light of the huge number of cases likely to be affected by the outcome, we request that it be referred to Justice Ouko to constitute a five-judge bench,” said Mr Mbobu.

The dispute relates to 434-acre Muiri Coffee Estate in Thika which was sold through public auction after Muigai’s company, Benjoh Amalgamated Ltd, failed to repay a loan borrowed from KCB. He had in 1988 borrowed Sh11.5 million from the bank and used the coffee estate as collateral.

After defaulting to repay the loan, KCB moved to auction the estate to recover the outstanding loan.

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The estate was sold to Bidii Kenya Ltd after a public auction conducted by Watts Enterprises, but Muigai claimed the sale was fraudulent, arguing that although the farm was valued at more than Sh700m at the time of auction, KCB auctioned it at only Sh70m.

He filed several suits in attempt to stop the sale, but was unsuccessful. The suits were dismissed by the court with some ending up at the Court of Appeal, but suffered the same fate. 

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In the final Court of Appeal decision in December 2017, justices Nambuye, Makandia and M’Inoti ruled that the land transfer was legally executed and that Bidii Ltd had appropriately acquired the title.

Still determined to pursue the case, Muigai filed for review before the three judges arguing that the lawyer who sanctioned the consent leading to the public auction has distanced himself from the action.

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KCBPresident Jomo Kenyatta434-acre coffee farm