Muilti-billionaire Njenga karume’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.
It’s a reprieve for the Trustees of billionaire businessman and veteran Kiambu politician Njenga Karume after the High Court declined to charge them with contempt of court.
High Court Judge Alfred Mabeya, ruled that he will first hear an application by the trustees on whether the court has jurisdiction to hear a case in which three children have accused trustees chairman Ngugi Waireri,Mary Nduta and Ngugi Gatabaki of interfering with their father’s Muiltibillions property.
On Tuesday, Lucy Karume, Samuel Karume and Albert Karume sought to have the trustees charged with contempt for interfering with Pizza Garden in Westlands, Nairobi. Pizza Garden has a reputation of preparing finger licking pizzas made from a traditional brick oven.
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 an way with Pizza Garden under the trust.
They accuse the trustees of operating in an opaque manner, neglecting them and failing to pay school fees and medical bills for Karume’s grandchildren.
The trio in their affidavit stated that there were some activities taking place in the establishment without their consent and as children of the late Defence minister they are entitled to know what happens in their estate.
They accused the three trustees of wanting to take over the vast business empire. The businesses include hotel industry, real estate, agriculture and transport.
“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,” they said.
However, lawyers George Oraro, Waweru Gatonye and Tom Macharia who are representing the trustees argued that the facts had been laid before another suit in the family court.
They termed it as an abuse of court as the children have filed several confusing suits before court.
Justice Mabeya agreed with the three lawyers saying that though a person who has defied court order has no right to be heard, the issue of powers of that court would have to be determined first.
Justice Mabeya ruled that it would be in vain for him to hear a case and make a determination it did not have the authority.
He noted that the contempt proceedings had been filed 14 days after the alleged demolition had been done and questioned why the children did not move to court immediately.
“On realization of the demolition, the three beneficiaries could have move to court under a certificate of urgency to stop further interference with the property,” Mabeya said.
Waireri, Nduta and Gatabaki are holding that they have the right to be heard before the three beneficiaries on grounds that the judge had no powers to hear a matter that was already being heard by another judge.
Making submissions before Judge Alfred Mabeya in Milimani yesterday, 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 three children have filed a case before justice Lydia Achode of the family court challenging their father’s will. They later moved before Justice Joseph Sergon of the civil court seeking the removal of the trustees on grounds of mismanagement.
The case will be heard on May 21