No end in sight for Koinange's estate tussle 36 years later

Former Cabinet Minister Mbiyu Koinange’s Children George Koinange (centre) and Lena Koinange (second right) with other family members at the Milimani Law Courts. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

The battle for Mbiyu Koinange's multi-billion-shilling estate is yet to be settled 36 years on.

The epic war pitting the late minister's children and two women claiming to be his widows is being fought in the second highest court in the land, making it the longest succession battle ever in Kenya.

Ms Margaret Njeri, one of the women who was stripped of the right to inherit part of the politician's Sh17 billion estate, went to the High Court to stop distribution of the wealth.

In her application submitted in court in November 2015 barely a month after a ruling that stripped her of the 'widow' status, Njeri wants the court to put on hold the distribution exercise until her appeal against the High Court judgment is heard and determined.

In the September ruling, High Court judge William Musyoka had not only stripped Njeri and her 'co-wife' Eddah Wanjiru of the widow status, but also ordered the two to give back what they had acquired from the former powerful minister who served in Jomo Kenyatta's government.

Wanjiru had been one of the managers of the late Koinange's estate for 33 years.

As testified in the court, both women did not have children with the late minister as Njeri left him for his brother (Charles Karuga) and Wanjiru was said to have just had a 'fling' with Koinange as she was his assistant.

famous resort

"As I have found Margaret Njeri and Eddah Wanjiru not to be the widows of the deceased, I hereby declare that they have hereby ceased to be the administrators of the estate of the deceased," read Justice Musyoka's ruling that also bestowed the administration of the estate to three of Koinange's sons David Njunu, Mbiyu Koinange and David Waiganjo.

Consequently, Wanjiru lost 11,000 shares at a famous resort at Ocean View hotel in Mombasa County

At the time of the ruling, the only assets available (as others were claimed to have been sold by the two women illegally) were Muthera Farm in Mau Narok (4,292 acres), Koira Ltd, Waihuthia Farm in Limuru (198 acres), Thindigua Farm (98 acres), a farmland at Closeburn Estate (176 acres) and Ikinu farm, among others.

But in her application, Njeri had argued that the circumstances surrounding the inheritance battle was being driven more by emotions and it would be devastating for the court to later find that she together with her disputed co-wife (Wanjiru) were actually legally married to the deceased.

Justice Musyoka had been the 25th judge to handle the case that was first launched in 1981. Some judges have even retired leaving the case still pending.

However, lawyers appear to be the biggest beneficiaries with the multiple appeals as over 50 parallel cases have been filed since 1981.

In Musyoka's ruling, he had ordered that lawyers, who were also claiming a share of the estate on grounds of representing the children, would not have a taste of it to recover their accrued legal fees.

At the ruling, it was determined that advocate fees are not debts of the estate.

"An advocate who acts for an estate, administrator, heir or beneficiary does not become an heir or beneficiary. He (she) is therefore not entitled to participate in the distribution of the estate in terms of being catered for as an heir," read the ruling.

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