Trustee official sued in row over Sh375m plot

 The siblings claim the trustee took advantage of their young age to defraud them their inheritance. [File, Standard]

Five siblings are crying for justice after an official of the Public Trustee took possession of their five-acre land in Karen, Nairobi, with a market value of Sh375 million.

Through a suit filed at the Environment and Lands Court, the siblings claim the trustee took advantage of their young age to defraud them their inheritance by allowing Nelson Warunge Kimani to take possession of their property.

“We are on the verge of being totally disinherited as we wallow in poverty while those who were meant to protect us are benefitting from our misery. The Public Trustee who should be the protector of deceased people’s assets failed us in his duty to protect our land,” they said.

Fatuma Ali, Abdalla Ali, Serifa Ali, Zamida Ali and Salima Ali said their father Ali Mohamed Zaid died in May 1973 when they were minors with no legal authority to be granted custody of their fathers’ estate.

They told the court that since their mother, who later passed on, was also semi-illiterate, it was decided that the properties be transferred to the Public Trustee as the personal representative of the estate to hold in their trust until they become adults.

Fatuma, in her affidavit, said when they became adults, they applied for letters of administration to take over their father’s estate in 2009 only to discover that Mr Kimani who was an officer at the Public Trustee had secretly transferred the 5-acre land to himself.

“We discovered that he used his position to unjustly and fraudulently enrich himself from the estate of my father which was bestowed upon him by virtue of being a public trustee. Kimani had taken 2.5-acres of our land and subdivided the remaining portion and sold it to other buyers,” said Fatuma.

The siblings had also made a complaint to the Director of Criminal Investigation which led to the arrest and prosecution of Kimani before the Chief Magistrate Court in Kibera with fraudulent acquisition of the five-acre land.

The DCI investigations had revealed that the siblings were minors at the time their father died and could not pursue the succession matter, and that Kimani transferred the land to himself in 1982 before subdividing and selling some portions to third parties.

However, on May 11, the Director of Public Prosecution through State counsel Joseph Riungu applied to terminate the criminal case against Kimani to await the outcome of the ownership dispute before the land’s court.

Kimani denied defrauding the siblings of their inheritance stating that he validly acquired the land from the Public Trustee who had the exclusive right to manage the estate.

“They cannot claim that they were granted letters to administer the estate in 2019 which is more than 46 years since their father died. Although it is true that I worked at the Ministry of Constitutional and Home Affairs, I did not use my position to acquire the land,” said Kimani.

According to Kimani, he took vacant possession of the land in 1982 and has been staying there ever since which means even if the land did not belong to him, he has a right to take possession by way of adverse possession. Justice Samson Okongo issued an order stopping Kimani from disposing or selling part of the land pending hearing and determination of the suit.