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ELECTION 2022

Court rules in favour of son in 24-year case for Sh2 billion estate

CENTRAL
By Kamau Muthoni | Dec 29th 2021 | 3 min read

Charles Wanjohi Chomba before a Nyeri court on November 10, 2020. [Joseph Kanyi, Standard]

The High Court sitting in Nyeri has dismissed a case that has been running for 24 years in which a man and his mother had been accused of forging an affidavit to inherit a Sh2 billion estate.

Justice Abigail Mshila set aside the criminal case against Charles Wanjohi and his mother Lydia Wanjira Chomba.

The case follows an affidavit that gave Wanjohi a right to inherit the estate left behind by Wathuku Ngure.

Wanjohi says Wathuku was his father, a claim Wathuku’s brother, Githinji Ngure and cousin Charles Mwangi Gatundu disputed, and dragged him to court 24 years ago. Applicants claim Wanjohi’s affidavit was forged and that he is not Wathuku’s son as he alleged.

At the time of his death on September 7, 1996, Wathuku had 50 acres under coffee in Nyaribo Farm and another 130 acres under horticulture.

He also had a fleet of lorries and tractors, and several bank accounts with millions of shillings.

It is this wealth that has given Wanjohi sleepless nights as he shuttles between the police station and the courts in a fight centered on establishing whether he is the sole heir to Wathuku’s estate.

Is Wanjohi Wathuku’s son? This is a puzzle that has been unresolved for 24 years.

The crux of the case is the nature of the relationship Wathuku had with Wanjohi’s mother, Wanjira, between 1967 and 1968.

The applicants have questioned whether Wanjohi was a product of the relationship.

Githinji and his cousin Mwangi have disputed Wanjohi’s claim that he was Wathuku’s son.

Without a will

It has been for 24 years now and it appears when one court agrees with Wanjohi, Githinji and Ngure take him to another, over the same matter.

Wathuku died without writing a Will. At the time of his death, he had no wife but there was Wanjohi.  

Justice Abigail Mshila set aside the criminal case against Charles Wanjohi and his mother Lydia Wanjira Chomba. [Courtesy]

Wanjohi, upon learning the Wathuku had died, lodged the first case that saw Wathuku’s body remain at Chiromo Mortuary for six months.

Wanjohi sued Adriano Ngure, Githinji and Wathuku’s sister Wahito Gichuki, seeking orders to allow him to bury Wathuku at Nyaribo in Nyeri.

He also contested being sidelined in the funeral plans saying he was a biological son to the deceased. 

The three distanced themselves from Wanjohi, claiming Wathuku had married two women who died without getting children. They however admitted that Wanjohi’s mother, Lydia Wanjira Chomba, was Wathuku’s girlfriend.

They said Wathuku was involved with many other women.

Justice Mshila noted the motive of Wanjohi’s antagonists to complain to the police over alleged forgery was to use the officers as pawns against him.

Criminal proceedings

“The motives of the complainants are questionable… it is clear that after losing the succession case and subsequent appeal, the complainants are now challenging the same issues on the same subject matter against the same opponent through criminal proceedings. This court is satisfied that the criminal proceedings are a clear abuse of court process,” ruled Justice Mshila.

A total of 20 Court of Appeal judges and two High Court judges have handled the case.

In their ruling, justices Samwel Bosire, Moijo Ole Keiuwa, and J G Nyamu described it as a “... case in which the dead might be turning in their graves in anticipation of the outcome, and those who are alive waiting for the second coming of the Messiah so that the truth can declare itself.”

Wanjohi’s court papers show all that Wathuku did for him was to go before a chief, swear an affidavit that he was his son, facilitated his change of name and introduced him to workers and friends as his son.

Githinji and Mwangi, on the other hand, have claimed that as representatives of the ‘Aceera’ clan they are entitled to inherit Wathuku’s wealth because he had no surviving spouse or children.

This is disputed by Wanjohi who argues that he is the sole heir to his billions.

He has the witnesses and a thumb-stamped affidavit to prove that the patriarch recognised him as his son and even contributed to his education. 

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