Naivas row: Court directs siblings to seek consensus in estate administration

The High Court in Nakuru has issued a directive in the ongoing legal battle over the estate of Naiva’s Supermarket founder Peter Mukuha.

The court has ruled that Grace Wamboi, one of Mukuha’s children, must obtain the consent of her siblings before replacing her late brother, Simon Gashwe, as the administrator of their father’s vast multi-million estate.

This decision is part of a series of legal actions taken by heirs seeking control and resolution over the administration of the lucrative estate.

Mr Mukuha died on May 6, 2010, leaving behind a substantial estate, including significant shares in Naivas Limited, the company operating the Naivassupermarkets.

The estate has been a subject of legal contention among his nine surviving children. One of Mukuha’s sons Simon Gashwe was appointed the administrator of the estate on October 6, 2016. But Gashwe died August 26, 2019, leaving the administration of the estate unresolved.

Subsequently, Grace Wamboi, along with her brothers Newton Kagira and David Kimani, separately filed applications in 2023, 2022, and January 22, 2024, respectively seeking court orders to revoke and rectify the grant issued to Gashwe and replace him as the administrator.

In their applications, Wamboi and Kagira argued that the grant issued to Gashwe became obsolete upon his death, leaving the estate without a designated administrator. Mr Kagira further stated that Gashwe died before completing the administration of the estate, risking potential wastage.

Ms Wamboi asserted that her brother passed away before concluding the administrative work and that the estate had faced legal challenges, including pending court cases and improper property distribution. However, Mr Kimani, another heir, opposed Kagira’s application, alleging that his involvement in filing cases against the estate created a conflict of interest.

According to Kimani, Gashwe had already distributed the estate to all beneficiaries before his demise. In the ruling, Justice Heston Nyaga addressed the applications filed by Wamboi and Kagira, noting that Kimani was yet to appear before the court.

The judge observed that it seemed the estate had already undergone substantial distribution and therefore the court’s role was to grant letters of administration to any of the heirs to complete the remaining distribution of the estate. Justice Nyaga acknowledged that all three applicants held equal standing, necessitating an evaluation of various factors to determine the most suitable person to oversee the distribution of the remainder of the estate.

Factors included the consent of other parties and the existence of conflicts of interest, among others.

“There is no one who is good and bad, but here , who is the most suitable,” ruled Justice Nyaga.

The court found Mr Kagira unsuitable due to pending cases at the Court of Appeal against the late executor Gashwe. Justice Nyaga expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest, stating that Kagira would be left simultaneously representing conflicting interests.

“He will be left wearing the shoes of the appellant and respondent spontaneously and applicant and respondent spontaneously. Clearly there will be a conflict of interest,” stated the court.

Regarding Wamboi’s application, the court deemed her suitable, but her application lacked the backing of other siblings.Consequently, the court granted her time to seek consent from the remaining siblings and to agree on an additional person who would jointly administer the estate with her.

“This estate may require more than one administrator-one from each faction-since the family seems to have been drawn into different factions to enable the completion of the distribution of the estate,” ruled the court.

The judge regretted the continuous disputes among the siblings, emphasizing that such conflicts were disrespectful to their deceased father’s wishes.“The incessant dispute in this cause will definitely make the deceased turn in his grave if he is not doing so already,” stated the judge

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