Multi-billionaire Njenga karate’s family¬ Lawyer Peter Muge Murage leaving Milimani law court on Tuesday, 5 May 2015 after they argued an application seeking Njenga Karume trustees charged with court contempt.
BY SAM ALFAN.
The children of billionaire businessman and veteran Kiambu politician want trustees of their father’s vast estate charged with court contempt.
Lucy Karume, Samuel Karume and Albert Karume accuse Njenga Karume Trust Chairman Ngugi Waireri of interfering with their father’s property. The businesses include hotel industry, real estate, agriculture and transport.
Making submissions before Judge Alfred Mabeya in Milimani, lawyer Peter Munge said it has been difficult to serve Waireri, Mary Nduta and Ngugi Gatabaki who are trustees of the estate from demolishing part of the estate’s property.
The children in the suit argue that the three have defied a court order stopping them from demolishing, selling, charging, transferring, mortgaging and interfering in a way with Pizza Garden in Westlands, Nairobi, under the trust.
The three want the trustees to step aside as they have lost their trust and confidence in the way they manage the estate.
They also accuse them of operating in an opaque manner, neglecting them and failing to pay school fees and medical bills for Karume’s grandchildren.
Munge wondered what activity was taking place in the establishment without the consent of the three children who are entitled to know what happens in their estate.
“Trustees of the estate have defied a court order stopping them from demolishing, selling, charging, transferring, mortgaging and interfering in an way with the property and the court should hold them in contempt,” the counsel said.
Munge was making submissions in reference to Judge Joseph Sergon who issued the orders on March 27 barring the trustees from interfering or demolishing Pizza Garden until Tuesday.
The orders were barred until the case is heard and determined.
The lawyer questioned the activity which was taking place in the restaurant since the three trustees have declined to be served.”In order to restore the courts credibility, the three trustees should be punished as they have been avoiding service,” Munge said.
He said he sent a cessation note to the three trustees lawyers on February 17 but they ignored them forcing Lucy, Samuel and Albert to move to court under a certificate of urgency to seek orders barring the three from any demolition.
But lawyer Waweru Gatonye of Waireri dismissed claims by the three that trustees want to take over the vast business empire.
He said it was untrue that trustees had hired top law firms to help them win court cases against the children.
The lawyer said it was the three children who initiated the court cases and wondered why they could turn around and blame the trustees for defending their management of the estate.
“The children have filed multiple suits against the trust and the trustees seeking to contest the terms of the last will and the trust. It is the right of each accused party to engage their lawyers to represent them in the multiple cases,” Gatonye said.
He argued that Lucy, Samuel and Albert have also hired the services of top law firms.
The latest altercation has been sparked by the Trustees’ move to not just defend the three issues already lodged in court but also to seek services of five top-notch lawyers known to command huge legal fees.
The cases are lodged in the Family and Civil Court Division where Albert, Samuel and Lucy Karume are challenging the will and demolition of Pizza Gardens by the executors and trustees.
The executors—James Raymond, Stephen Karau and Fransisca Kahiu— had moved to court seeking authority to share the estate among the dependents, according to the will. Documents filed in court show that, Albert sits on the board of Jacaranda Holdings; Henry is a representative of Karume Holdings while Samuel is a representative on Cianda Holdings.
Trustees are said to have hired celebrated legal minds, namely Fred Ngatia (incorporating Hamilton Harrison and Mathews), George Oraro, Waweru Gatonye and Kamau Karori of Iseme, Kamau, and Maema Co. Advocates.
These, the family feels, are too expensive and likely to drain millions of shillings from the crumbling Karume financial empire. The family also claims the trustees target the services of a yet to be known law firm from the United Kingdom for the same case.
But according to the trust chairperson George Waireri, Njenga Karume Trust (NKT) should not be confused with the Njenga Karume Estate. Waireri said the estate of the late Karume was left under a will which is yet to be executed and is also before the court as a section of the beneficiaries are disputing Karume’s last wishes.
He said NKT was set up to run business under the empire which include, real estate, hospitality and agriculture, adding that the politician was the chairman of the Trust Fund for nine months until his demise. He said both the will and the trust were drawn by Iseme Kamau Maema (IKM) under late politician’s instructions.
IKM are, therefore, merely the lawyers for the executors of the will in accordance to the wishes of the late Njenga Karume as set out in his last will. He said the trust is represented by lawyer Tom Macharia who is led by Waweru Gatonye while the trustees are represented by Senior Counsel George Oraro and IKM represent the executioners of the will.
“We would like to clarify that the trust has not engaged the services of Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia or his firm and neither is it looking to enlist a law firm from the United Kingdom,” said Waireri. At the same time, the aggrieved sons and daughter of Karume now want the trustees punished for allegedly disobeying express court orders, blocking demolition of structures in Pizza Inn Gardens and Jacaranda.
Albert, Samuel and Wanjiru say the court extended the temporary injunction until tomorrow (May 5, 2015), stopping any interference with the property, pending the determination of the dispute. They say their lawyers Peter Munge, personally served the sanctions on the head of security at Jacaranda, one Solomon Itati and a senior security supervisor Danson Amaya of Pizza Gardens on March 28, 2015.
“That on 21, April 2015, I passed by the Pizza Garden after I received information that the demolition had resumed. On arrival I was shocked when I noticed that indeed the demolition had resumed with extra guards who barred my siblings and I from approaching the premises. I also noticed that the orders that had been affixed at the wall had been removed,” the family states in part of their affidavit filed on April 30, 2015.
Yesterday, a family spokesperson Lucy Wanjiru Karume claimed that the trustees are in the process of hiring a UK law firm in an effort to bar the family from taking back control of their late father’s estate . “Or is there a bigger picture the family is unaware of?”she posed, claiming the trustees are defending their appointment to manage the estate as if the assets thereof were their own.
“Why the enthusiasm and eagerness to spend millions from the estate that is already caught up in an imbroglio?” They sought explanations as to whether the lawyers had been given down-payments to join the case and whether the legal fees would be drawn from the estate.
“Who has given the trustees and the law firm of IKM authority to use our money to contract these lawyers?” she posed. Wanjiru also accused the police of failing to assist the family execute court orders that are meant to protect the multi-billion family business and cited a case where the Parklands police boss allegedly declined to assist in stopping the demolition of Pizza Gardens.
It has emerged that eight months before his death, Karume had sworn under oath in the presence of his physician Dr Dan Gikonyo of Karen Hospital and Bishop David Kamau to ensure his vast estate is divided according to his wishes.
The ruling will be delivered tomorrow morning by Justice Mabeya. .