Economy

Raila family strikes deal in Fidel’s property fight

fidel

Fidel Odinga's widow speaking during her husband's funeral in Bondo, accompanied by Mama Ida Odinga and Mr Odinga. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The legal fight for the control of the estate of Fidel Odinga, the son of Orange Democratic Leader Raila Odinga, has been settled with his widow getting full control of three properties including a villa in Karen.

The widow, Lwam Getachew Bekele, will hold the rest of the estate including cash in eight bank accounts, two cars, a plot in Kisumu and two investment firms in trust for the benefit of her son, a minor.

This means she cannot sell the assets and income from the properties, and cash in accounts can only be used for the benefit of the minor — such as paying school fees, medical, holiday expenses and clothing.

Mr Odinga’s son, Raila Odinga Junior, has been made joint administrator of the estate together with Ms Bekele, says an out-of-court agreement seen by the Business Daily.

The deal inked by Odinga’s wife, Ida, and her daughter-in-law, Ms Bekele, has brought to an end a vicious court fight that threatened to offer Kenyans a peep into the Odingas’ jealously guarded family and business secrets.

The court fight became public in October 2019 after the Odingas accused Ms Bekele of sidelining twins the late Fidel had sired with another woman, Phoebe Akinyi Gweno.

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The twins, born months after his death in January 2015, were at the centre of the property battle where Mrs Odinga and daughter Winnie sought rights of administration over Fidel’s estate.

The rights were granted to Fidel’s widow Lwam in January 2019, but the Odingas claimed the offer disadvantaged other beneficiaries of the assets.

Under the out-of-court deal, Fidel’s widow and her brother, Fahm Getachew, dropped the right to be the administrator of the multi-million shilling estate.

“That an administrator of the estate being Fahm Getachew Bekele be substituted with Raila Odinga Junior so as to have Lwam Getachew Bekele and Raila Odinga Junior as the administrators of the estate of the Fidel Castro Odhiambo Odinga,” said the agreement.

Fidel, who died in January 2015 without leaving a will, had acquired several properties among them a house in Karen’s Tipuana Park, two pieces of land in Kisumu, a parcel of land in Kajiado, shares in Axum Investments Limited and Ambesa Investments Limited, and four vehicles.

Fidel also had eight bank accounts spread in Gulf, ABC, Stanbic, DTB and Standard Chartered Banks whose contents were not disclosed in court filings.

The only liability revealed in the filings are debts to a credit card issued by Stanbic Bank’s Chiromo branch in Nairobi.

Among the properties handed to Raila’s grandson are a price of land in Othany in Kisumu and two motor vehicles- a Nissan Sunny and a Range Rover, the shares in Axum Investment ltd and Ambesa Investments ltd, 250 each.

Cash in the bank accounts are also being held in trust for the minor.

ALSO READ: Legal battle for Fidel Odinga estate begins as court orders DNA test

Ms Bekele will get Tipuana House in Karen, where they lived with Fidel before his death in an estate that hosts five-bedroom villas, a parcel of land in Kanyawegi in Kisumu and another plot in Kajiado.

The fate of another woman who had joined the case, on the strength of having borne twins with Fidel, was not revealed in the agreement.

The High Court had allowed Ms Akinyi to join the case to protect the interests of her children. The judge said it was prudent to allow her as an interested party in the case.

Ida and Winnie told the court that Ms Bekele was aware of the existence of the twins but chose to sideline them.

Justice Muchelule had in October 2019 ordered DNA tests to establish the children’s paternity, but court records do not show whether they were conducted.

Ms Bekele had questioned the paternity of the twins and said she had no problem including them as beneficiaries of her husband’s estate if they turn out to be Fidel’s children.

In the case, Mrs Odinga moved to court arguing that she wants to protect the interests of other beneficiaries of the estate of Fidel and her other children.

She accused Ms Bekele of secretly filing the application to control Fidel’s assets and failing to furnish them with the papers despite having an interest in the estate.

In the suit, Ms Bekele alleged that her strained relationship with her mother-in-law was the real cause of the succession dispute and refuted claims by the Odinga family that she excluded several properties from an inventory of assets her late husband owns

She denied knowledge of a Mercedes Benz linked to Fidel, and that one of the Range Rovers in question is in the possession of her late husband’s business partner, only identified as Hossein, and who claims to have bought the vehicle.

The second Range Rover, Ms Bekele argues, is registered in the name of an individual identified as Yunis Muhammed.

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As for their matrimonial home, Ms Bekele insisted that its ownership fully shifted to her after Fidel’s death hence it cannot form part of her late husband’s estate.

Settlement of the property fight eliminates a distraction for Mr Odinga in the battle for his fifth bid for Kenya’s presidency, this time with the support of his former foe President Uhuru Kenyatta. Mr Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto Ruto are battling it out on the campaign trail.

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