Court filings have revealed the genesis of the multimillion-shilling tussle for the estate of Fidel Odinga, with his mother Ida and widow Lwam Bekele engaged in a vicious legal battle that has laid bare the secrets of Raila Odinga’s family.
In court papers seen by the Sunday Nation, Mrs Odinga and her daughter Winnie accuse Ms Lwam of omitting several properties in the inventory of her late husband’s estate.
They also accuse Ms Lwam of vacating the matrimonial home she shared with her late husband, who died in 2015, and withdrawing their young child from school, thus denying him he right to education.
“It is not in dispute that Ms Bekele was the legally married wife to the late Fidel (sic)," say Ida and Winnie in their affidavit. "But we are worried that the child Fidel left behind may not be adequately provided for.”
The Odingas accuse the widow of conniving with her mother and brother to petition the court to grant her the letters of administration despite efforts made for the two families to jointly seek the letters.
They say the widow deliberately and maliciously provided erroneous, incomplete and non-existent bank account details in an attempt not to be held accountable, and failed to fully declare and give an accurate account of Fidel’s properties.
“The said grant was issued erroneously, as it unjustifiably locked out other interested parties from the estate of the deceased, his other children, his mother and sister respectively. The proposed administrators cannot be entrusted alone to faithfully administer according to the law the estate of the deceased and render a true and just account of such estate.”
Mrs Odinga further accuses Ms Lwam of keeping Fidel’s son away from the formal education system. She claims that while still married to Ms Lwam, Fidel had two other children from a different relationship, whom he supported during his lifetime, a fact she says was well-known to the widow.
“Ms Bekele has deliberately failed to include and provide or otherwise show intention of providing for the said minors, hence a red flag on her intention,” the two Odingas say.
Mrs Odinga and Winnie say the widow vacated her matrimonial home in Nairobi’s upmarket Karen area soon after Fidel was buried and cut all communication with the family.
“Though Fidel’s death remained a mystery and efforts were made to establish what suddenly transpired, the widow kept off from the family,” the two say.
Ms Odinga says it remains unclear why Ms Lwam ran away from her matrimonial home and there have been various efforts to establish contact so as to petition the court and jointly secure the future of the minors.
“Her actions were all planned, deliberate and calculated to take advantage of Fidel’s family who are not aware when the plans were made."
But, in a replying affidavit, Ms Lwam denies knowledge of the existence of the minors the Odingas claim were sired by her late husband. She, however, says that she has no problem including them as beneficiaries of her late husband’s estate if they turn out to be his children.
“I have never intermeddled with the estate of the deceased person either before or after being issued with the grant of letters of administration intestate,” she says.
She argues that the birth certificates presented in court by Mrs Odinga and Winnie do not disclose who the father of the twins is, adding that they were born six months after the death of her husband.
In refuting claims by the Odinga family that she excluded several properties from an inventory of assets her late husband owned, Ms Lwam says that her strained relationship with Ida is the cause of the succession dispute. The alleged assets excluded, which the widow says she has no knowledge of, include three top-of-the-range vehicles, three bank accounts and her matrimonial home.
Ms Lwam says she is not aware of the Mercedes Benz her late husband allegedly owned, while one of the Range Rovers alleged to be in her possession in indeed owned by her late husband’s business partner only identified as Hossein, who claims to have bought it.
The second Range Rover, she argues, is registered in the name of an individual identified as Yunis Muhammed.
As for their matrimonial home, Ms Lwam insists that its ownership was fully transferred to her upon Fidel’s death, hence it cannot form part of her late husband’s estate.
In her affidavit, Mrs Odinga says she is concerned about the future of her grandchild, who she fears may not be adequately provided for and may be disadvantaged in the distribution of the estate.
The Odingas want the court to nullify the letter of administration granted to the widow saying her intentions and actions are fraudulent and irregular and she misled the court that every person having an equal or prior right to the grant had consented.
Fidel died in January 2015 without a written will and had acquired several properties, among them their Karen Tipuana Park home, two pieces of land in Kisumu and another one in Kajiado, shares in Axum Investments Limited and Ambesa Investments Limited, and four vehicles, according to the court papers.