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35 families of colonial chief to share out Sh146 million

By Nderitu Gichure | Sep 25th 2015 | 2 min read

The Environmental and Land Court in Nyeri has ruled that only 35 households of the late Chief Wambugu Mathangani are entitled to the Sh146 million given as compensation by the national government.

The long-awaited ruling came after a protracted dispute pitting the heirs of the 55-acre parcel, which was owned by the late chief in the outskirts of Nyeri town now known as Wambugu Farmers Training Centre.

The Government compensated the family in 2009 after it compulsorily acquired the land belonging to the paramount chief in 1974.

However, immediately after the compensation was made, a row erupted between his many descendants on how to share out the money. Mathangani is said to have had many wives.

In the judgment delivered yesterday by Justice Lucy Waithaka on behalf of justice Antony Obwayo, the court ordered that the distribution of the money be based on households of each of his wives.

This, the judge said, will also include sisters and adopted daughters in equal shares as long as they are claimants from the household of the deceased chief.

"Sons and unmarried daughters will be given priority, those dead will have their shares taken by their children and grandchildren as long as they appear to be identified," Justice Waithaka observed.

The court also ordered that Sh10 million be set aside to cater for the advocate's costs and maintenance of the chief's grave as requested by the beneficiaries.

Surprisingly, married daughters and their children were left out. Justice Waithaka said they are not eligible for the compensation under the customary law.

The court further ruled that the defendant compiles another list of interested identified persons and file the list with the commissioner of land.

"Interested persons are those who appeared before the inquiry and before this court regardless of the nature of their interest," she observed.

The list, the judge observed, should be ready as the family awaits the outcome of the appeal they have lodged in court.

The family has appealed against the amount (Sh146 million) given as compensation, claiming the amount is far below the market price.

Kariuki Wambugu had told the court that before the Government acquired the land through the Ministry of Agriculture, it was leased to the African Council for 50 years.

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