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Court calls on elders as Kutt's Sh500m succession battle takes new twist

Rift Valley
 Justice Reuben Nyakundi at the Mombasa High Court in Mombasa County. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A succession case in which a man has disowned his biological father over control of Sh500 million estate left behind by a prominent Uasin Gishu farmer, the late Kireger Kutt, has taken a new turn at an Eldoret Court.

This was after presiding judge, Reuben Nyakundi allowed the applicant, Jonah Rutto, to bring in court an elder who is an expert on customary laws related to the adoption of children among the Nandi community.

Justice Nyakundi stated that the elder must be conversant with all aspects of Nandi culture and specifically issues related to the adoption of children.

“Customary law is very complicated and that is why we need an expert to come and shed light to the court on how it is done to enable the court to arrive at an informed decision/judgment when dealing with such complex matters,” ruled Justice Nyakundi.

He made the ruling in a case where Jonah had accused his father Philip Kutto, whom he refers to as a brother, for sidelining him in the distribution of the deceased’s multi-million shillings estate spread in various parts of Uasin Gishu county.

The deceased who was 99 years and a prominent dairy and cereal farmer, died 19 years ago without a will.

He left behind four widows, namely Sarah, Rebecca, Mary and Esther and 27 children among them Philip Kutto who is the eldest among his siblings.

The deceased also left behind more than 50 grandchildren among them Jonah, who is embroiled in the succession battle with his father.

Philip and his young brother Daniel Kiplagat had been granted letters of administration to run and manage the estate of their late father’s estate.

However, just as they were preparing to distribute it to the indicated beneficiaries, the matter took a new twist.

This was after Jonah, claiming to be the adopted son of the late Kireger, filed a petition in court seeking a share of the deceased’s estate as one of his sons.

In his application, Jonah compelled the court to revoke the grant of letters of administration issued to his biological father and his younger brother until the issue of inheritance of the deceased’s estate is heard and determined.

According to Jonah, the administrators of his late father’s estate obtained partial confirmation of grant through deliberate concealment of material facts of his existence.

Jonah jointly with Anne Chepkorir claim in the court documents filed before Justice Nyakundi that he is entitled to 80 acres of agricultural land. 

He stated that his grandfather died intestate leaving behind adopted and biological children and that he is among the children the deceased took care of through his second wife Rebecca since childhood under Nandi customary law.

Jonah argued that the second widow (Rebecca) was never blessed with children of her own as she was barren.

Jonah further claimed that his father died before effecting the transfer of the said portion of land to him.

“We have been illegally and maliciously excluded as beneficiaries in the estate of the deceased by virtue of his adopted children,” he stated.

 He faulted the administrators of the deceased’s estate for allegedly concealing material facts to the trial court with the intention of disinheriting them.

He also reiterated that unless appropriate orders are issued in the best interest of justice, they risk losing their only share of livelihood and investment.

In his replying affidavit, Jonah’s father Philip said that to the best of his knowledge, the appellant was never one of the children of late Kireger Kutto, whether adopted or biological as alleged in the application he filed in court.

“The two are not entitled to any portion of the deceased’s estate as they are neither children, beneficiaries nor dependents of the deceased. They have no rights to lay claim over the deceased estate,” said Philip.

According to Philip, at no time did his son Jonah become an adopted child of the deceased as he alleges in his court documents.

“I personally raised Jonah until when he attained the age of maturity/adult. As for the second objector, she is unknown to me as well as the entire family of the late Kireger,” stated Philip.

The case is slated for hearing on June 10.

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