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Dementia: New weapon families are using to fight succession wars

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By BRIAN WASUNA
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Families are now using dementia as a reason to discount and disregard wills, in an emerging trend that has rocked the rich and the poor alike.

From billionaire families to the poor, dementia — often confused with senility — is the new excuse that disgruntled relatives are using to challenge wills, alongside forgery.

While there is no data on how many succession cases in court are based on claims of dementia at the time of making wills, we established that there are thousands of disputes currently before various judges and magistrates around the country.

Some of the recent high-profile cases based on dementia included that of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s uncle James Ngengi Muigai, real estate billionaire Gerishon Kirima, former Defence minister Njenga Karume and former judge Jackson Kasanga Mulwa.

In the battle for Mr Muigai’s property, his ex-wife Elizabeth Mumbi challenged a will that named his first son with another woman — Minneh Ngina — as the executors of his last wishes.

Ms Mumbi and Mr Muigai parted ways in 1942 after the latter took Ms Ngina as a second wife. Ms Mumbi claimed that, at the time of signing the will, Mr Muigai was demented.

After the split, Ms Mumbi had two children, Peter Nyoike and Peter Mugo. Mr Nyoike laid claim to Mr Muigai’s fortune as well and pushed on with the fight after his mother’s death.

High Court Judge Martha Koome dismissed the dementia claim in 2005 but ordered that Ms Mumbi’s son Peter Nyoike be provided for as a beneficiary. Mr Muigai’s son and President Kenyatta’s cousin Ngengi Muigai challenged the decision.

The Court of Appeal in June last year ruled that Mr Nyoike is not entitled to anything and reduced his allocation to five acres of land in Mr Muigai’s Ichaweri farm from the initial 10 acres.

Before the family of former Defence minister Karume agreed to sit and resolve their differences out of court, three of his children had challenged their father’s will as they sought to kick out trustees that were left to manage his multibillion-shilling business empire.

Lucy Wanjiru, Albert Kigera and Samuel Wanjema claimed that their father’s mental health legally barred him from signing the contested June 6, 2011 will.

One of his granddaughters, Michele Wariara, had initially come out to support the incapacity claim before withdrawing and claiming she had been coerced into calling for invalidation of Mr Karume’s will.

Discussions and reconciliation between the family members have been going on since August last year with the aim of withdrawing all court action.

In Mr Kirima’s case, the tycoon’s third wife, Teresia, challenged his second will, arguing that he had even been sedated and flown out of the country for treatment at the time the document was allegedly signed. But the family eventually struck an out-of-court deal.

For former Judge Kasanga Mulwa, his first wife Mary has challenged a will distributing his Sh5 billion estate. She argues that the former judge was not of sound mind at the time the document was sworn and that several properties have been left out of the disputed will. The case is still going on.

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With dementia mostly prevalent in people over the age of 70 years, several applications for custody, management and control of assets owned by affected persons are always being filed in the courts.

Under the Mental Health Act, relatives of individuals diagnosed with mental disorders are required to apply to the High Court for custody as caregivers and estate managers.

The Law of Succession Act bars anyone unaware of their actions, whether as a result of mental illness or drunkenness, from stating their last wishes in a will.

In the simplest terms, dementia is a chronic and persistent disorder of mental processes characterised by memory loss and decline in brain functions, which hinders an individual’s ability to perform basic tasks.

Under the Law of Succession Act, the next of kin of anyone suffering from mental illness are free to ask the High Court for permission to manage assets or businesses owned by patients.

This has opened the door for mischief in some instances, as some individuals attempt to wrest control of family assets by playing the dementia card.

On December 21, 2017 High Court Judge Farah Amin made a decision that anyone looking to get orders for custody and management of a demented individual’s estate should certainly look at.

Before the judge were the son and daughter of a Murang’a-based businesswoman.

The two claimed that their three siblings gave them the authority to apply for orders to have custody over their mother and become managers of her estate.

They, however, did not file any evidence of the consent, which Justice Amin pointed out. Being a family matter, identities of the litigants were only documented as initials.

In her ruling, Justice Amin dismissed the case, arguing that the businesswoman’s two children showed more concern for the assets she has acquired over the years, rather than caring for their mother.

The judge also noted that the evidence before court was not entirely clear and neither the businesswoman nor her children took the stand to allow Justice Amin confirm claims made in the suit.

The businesswoman’s children — AKG and ANG — claimed that their mother had a history of mental illness which had seen her admitted at Chiromo Lane Medical Centre.

As evidence, the businesswoman’s children filed a medical report. But Justice Amin faulted the report because it was a photocopy which was not entirely legible. The court also questioned its author and intentions.

Even more suspect to the judge was the fact that the report stated that the dementia was diagnosed after brain scans.

“Further, the court takes judicial notice that both dementia and mood disorders manifest themselves in behavioural characteristics and are not usually diagnosed from electronic brain mapping,” Justice Amin said.

In cases of custody, if a demented person is too far done by the condition, the court can make a ruling on custody and management of their estate without necessarily hearing from patients.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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