A woman and her children have been left homeless after her husband secretly sold their matrimonial land.
Jennifer Akinyi has also suffered a double blow after the Environment and Land Court dismissed her case seeking to repossess the matrimonial home on account that she slept on her rights to have the property registered under joint ownership agreement with her husband.
Yesterday, Justice Anne Omollo ruled that it is Ms Akinyi to blame for her misfortunes. Omollo said Akinyi’s husband Boniface Osodo cannot be blamed for selling the property he bought using his own sweat before they were married.
“The court could only interfere with the husband’s decision to dispose of the land if it was established that the sale was unlawful or meant to conceal fraudulent activities,” ruled Omollo.
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“I find that there was nothing barring him from disposing off the property since he was the sole registered owner.”
Akinyi had sued her husband for selling the matrimonial home in Busia to Alfred Juma and Edith Atieno without her knowledge and spousal consent.
She claimed that the land was gifted to them by her father-in-law after their wedding in 1985 and that they occupied it until 2004 when she went to work in Britain.
She stated that upon her return in 2015, she had plans to develop their retirement home on the land only to discover that her husband had sold it to Mr Juma and Ms Atieno. Akinyi accused her husband of forging documents to effect the transfer to Juma and Atieno and failing to have the interests of his family taken care of.
She said her husband’s actions almost left the family destitute.
Not ancestral gift
She argued that even after putting a caveat notice on the land to warn buyers that the land was a matrimonial home and not for sale, her husband went behind her back and colluded with the registrar of lands in Busia to change the title in favour of the buyers.
Osodo in his response denied claims that the land was an ancestral gift from his father stating that he bought it in 1981 before their marriage and that he did not need spousal consent to dispose of a property he laboured to acquire.
He stated that since the title was registered in his name, he used it as security to secure a loan from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC). He said it was the financial challenges he experienced while serving the loan that made him sell the matrimonial home.
He said that he used part of the money to offset the loan. Osodo explained that since he was in the process of divorcing his wife after 35-years of marriage, there was no need to seek her consent to sell the property.
Justice Omollo agreed with him ruling that there was no evidence the land was an ancestral gift given to the couple during their wedding.
“The wife has not produced any evidence to show the land was a gift from her father-in-law,” ruled the judge.
“I agree with the husband’s submission and evidence he provided to prove he purchased the property before their marriage.”
According to the judge, there was evidence that Osodo used part of the proceeds to settle the AFC loan.