The Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) has urged the court to dismiss a case filed by retired Presbyterian Church minister Timothy Njoya seeking to have a woman claiming to be his stepmother evicted from his late father’s land.
Fida told Nyeri Senior Principal Magistrate Phillip Mutua to declare the woman, Mary Wangui Maina, the legal owner of the four-acre land.
Through lawyer Catherine Murefu, the federation in its submissions indicated that Ms Maina was wife to Mr Njoya’s late father, Nahashon Njoya Murere, from 1977 until his death on January 2, 1996.
Ms Murefu produced a statement by Thimba clan elders showing that Ms Maina and the deceased co-habited.
The lawyer said that before Mr Murere’s death they were living together on the disputed land, which Ms Maina considers her matrimonial home.
“We were blessed with four children; George Mathenge, Anthony Maingi, Nelius Muthoni, and Lesho Njoki. The suit property is part of the estate of my late husband who is also father to the plaintiff,” said Ms Maina.
She said that before Mr Murere died, he had transferred the homestead from the side of the land owned by Rev Njoya to the suit land, where she has lived for 41 years with her children.
“I began constructing my house in 1981 after the birth of my daughter Muthoni. The plaintiff reported his father, the deceased, to the chief of Muhito location one Mr Kiama with the demand to be given more land.
“The chief summoned the deceased who confirmed in my presence that I was his wife and had a right to inherit his share of the property,” said Ms Maina. She added that Rev Njoya filed succession proceedings in 1997 without her knowledge and got consent at the High Court in Nairobi.
“I challenged the same by filing an application for revocation of grant which was dismissed in unclear circumstances,” stated Ms Maina.
Fida indicated that Ms Maina should be declared the owner of the land through adverse possession.
“It is appropriate to consider the terms of sections 7, 13, 17 and 38 (1) of the Limitation of Actions Act, which provides a basis for claims to title to land founded on adverse possession. Section 7 of the Act is a classical limitation of the actions provision, which prohibits recovery of land after 12 years from the date when the cause of action accrued,” Fida submitted.
But Rev Njoya fought back stating that Ms Maina was a trespasser on the land and the court should compel her to vacate.
He added that the estate was distributed by court. “This is a matter filed in 2005, with Ms Maina delaying the same for eight years by filing and failing to prosecute two applications in the High Court.
The plaintiff has been kept out of his property by the defendants who have lived on the same rent free,” said Mr Njoya through Kamau Kuria and Company Advocates.
Judgment will be delivered on December 4.