An epic battle is shaping up between two women who have marriage certificates indicating that they are legally married to a millionaire archbishop whose body has been lying in a mortuary for almost a year.
Musa Magodo’s body has been at the Umash Funeral Home in Nairobi for nine months now, as the two women battle each other in court.
So far, they have raised issues of illicit sex, bigamy (where a man is married to two women at the same time), polyandry (where a woman is married to two men at the same time), misappropriation of church funds and claims of children born out of wedlock.
At the centre of the fight is the right to the wealth Magodo left behind in his will amid the existence of the marriage certificates that the two women have presented.
The first certificate dated June 14, 1991, states that the church leader married Gladys Nekesa under African customary law, and that the marriage was solemnised at the Registrar of Marriages in Nairobi.
The second certificate shows that Magodo married Alice Ingaiza on March 17, 2007, in a marriage solemnised at the Kenya Church of Christ – Shiloh in Nairobi.
The bishop and founder of Magodo International Ministries is now the subject of a bitter legal suit pitting the two women against each other, with both claiming to have been his legal wife at the time of his death in September 2019.
Nekesa, who is based in Nakuru, sought an injunction to stop the burial, which had been scheduled for that September.
“The plaintiff avers that on June 14, 1991, she entered into a civil union with the deceased before the Registrar of Marriages, thereby contracting a legally binding marriage in the eyes of the law,” reads her plaint.
She points out that she lived with Magodo for more than 15 years in various locations, including Nairobi’s Uhuru and Pioneer estates, Nakuru’s Milimani Estate, Kitale, Gataka, and two residences in Karen.
The affidavit states: “Unless the orders sought herein are granted by this honourable court, the defendant will proceed to inter the remains of the deceased to the extreme prejudice and detriment of my rights as the legally recognised widow, and the rights of my children.”
Nekesa states that Ingaiza joined the family in 1994 as a househelp and worked to care for the family’s six children.
“Unknown to the plaintiff during the defendant’s employment with her family, the defendant began an illicit affair with her deceased husband in her matrimonial home, which affair led to a lot of strain in her marriage to the deceased,” the petition reads.
She further claims that in 2000, Magodo moved out of the matrimonial bedroom into the guest room and started an open sexual relationship with Ingaiza, adding that attempts to stop the relationship were met with violence from the archbishop.
Nekesa notes that after her ejection from her matrimonial home, Magodo began cohabiting with Ingaiza in various family homes within Nairobi and Ngong, and that there has never been any divorce proceedings commenced or concluded between her and the deceased.
Despite this, she argues that Ingaiza has been illegally passing herself off as a wife of the deceased.
Nekesa states: “Since the death of the deceased on September 2, 2019, the defendant has together with her family blocked all forms of access to the body of the deceased to myself and my children, and I only got to learn of his death through my sister on September 4, 2019.”
Nekesa adds that she does not know the circumstances and cause of Magodo’s death, and hence seeks that a postmortem examination be carried out to establish this.
The fact that a burial plan had been drawn and a grave dug at the family home in Gataka without her involvement, Nekesa argues, has caused her and her children physical trauma, anguish and “great social and economic embarrassment and distress”.
“By reason of matters stated herein, I have been deprived of and have lost consortium with my family and deceased during his lifetime and I should not be denied an opportunity to mourn his death,” concludes Nekesa.
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But in her replying affidavit, Ingaiza disputes claims made by Nekesa, stating that she has been legally married to Magodo since 2007 after the archbishop parted ways with his estranged wives – Margaret Makungu and Nekesa.
“I am the wife of Musa Magodo Keya (deceased) since 2007 after he performed all marriage rites and paid the bride price to my father, and we have been living together as husband and wife until his death on September 1,” states Ingaiza.
She adds that the deceased discovered that Nekesa had embezzled some funds meant for the church and charity work, and even got married to another man.
Ingaiza argues: “The plaintiff abandoned the deceased and remarried, thereafter permanently removing herself from the life and affairs of the deceased. The deceased and myself consummated our marriage in 2007 and have been living together as a husband and wife and were blessed with three biological children.”
She states that Nekesa got only one child with Magodo and that after the marriage broke down, the archbishop’s children from other unions were left under her care. She adds that she has lived with the deceased and the children, and Nekesa never participated.
Ingaiza disputes claims by Nekesa that she was a maid and commenced sexual relations with Magodo in the presence of the complainant as falsehoods and fabrication aimed at tarnishing her name.
“It is also not true that the plaintiff and the deceased ever lived together in Karen, Gataka or Ngong, as the said matrimonial homes were acquired and established by the deceased and myself after being separated from the plaintiff herein and the said Margaret Makungu,” avers Ingaiza, adding that these properties were acquired jointly with Magodo.
She adds that the marriage was public knowledge even to Magodo’s children from other unions, and that it was malicious, discriminative, unfair and oppressive for the plaintiff to subject “my children with the deceased to unnecessary and intrusive DNA and or paternity tests”.
Ingaiza states that even during his battle with sickness, Nekesa and Makungu did not visit or communicate with, nor show compassion to Magodo.
Also, she disputes the claim that family members and the church have not been actively involved in burial plans.
Responding to Nekesa’s claims of having faced cruelty from Magodo, Ingaiza argues that it was the other way round, and has asked the court to throw out the petition.