The Supreme Court ruled that former Cabinet minister Peter Mbiyu Koinange had four wives who should inherit his Sh10 billion empire, putting the drawn-out battle to rest.
The court dismissed an application that sought a declaration that the late Koinange had only two wives and their families should be the sole beneficiaries of the empire.
The parties will now have to return to the high court for distribution of the estate after the Supreme Court agreed with the finding of the Appellate court that Mr Koinange's two other wives, who were previously sidelined by the high court, should also get a share.
Mr George Kihara Mbiyu had requested the Supreme Court to hear an application where he is challenging the inclusion of Ms Margaret Njeri Mbiyu (Margaret) and Ms Eddah Wanjiru Mbiyu in the apportionment of the estate.
Supreme Court Judges David Maraga, Philomena Mwilu, Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola ruled that the Court of Appeal correctly applied the law in declaring the two widows beneficiaries of the estate.
“In the circumstances, we are unable to find any issue of general public importance in Mr Kihara’s intended appeal to warrant a review of the appellate court’s decision. Consequently, we dismiss this application. And this being a family dispute, we order that each party bears its own cost,” the judges ruled.
The disputed assets include one of the biggest undeveloped plots in Nairobi’s CBD, a Sh2 billion holding next to the Reinsurance Plaza building.
There are also shares in numerous companies including Magadi Soda, BAT, Ocean View Beach Hotel, Centum and Limuru Dairy.
It includes shares in BAT, Danson Macharia Saw Mills in Elbugon, 11,000 shares in Ocean View Beach Hotel and another 1,000 shares in Oceanic Hotel in Mombasa.
The estate owns 291 acres of prime land in Closeburn Estate in Runda, 100 acres of which was sold by the family to Jumbo Properties for Sh1 billion, and two prime plots in Kiambu.
Other family assets are the 640-acre Ihothia farm, Waihothia farm (198 acres), Thimbigwa/Waguthu (98 acres), Ikunu (13 acres), Githunguri (16 acres) and a petrol station, three buildings in Nakuru, Koira Bulding in Mombasa, two plots in Karuri and Kiambaa in Kiambu.
Also, the 4,296-acre Muthera farm in Nakuru, a plot in Dagoretti and Lunga Lunga in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.
The properties and others in co-operative groupings were estimated at Sh10 billion during court sessions
The former Cabinet minister, who died on September 3, 1981, was polygamous.
The other two wives are Ms Loise Njeri Mbiyu and Ms Damaris Wambui Mbiyu, both deceased.
The major issues before the Court of Appeal was whether Margaret and Eddah were widows of the deceased, whether Eddah’s daughter Sylvia Wambui Mbiyu, born 83 days after Koinange's death, was his biological child, whether two companies that had bought portions of Koinange’s pieces of land acquired interests in those property, and the rightful share of each beneficiary.
The matter has dragged in court for over 30 years.