A land ownership dispute between retired PCEA cleric Timothy Njoya and Mary Wangui Maina, who says she is his ‘stepmother’, is far from over after the latter appealed court’s decision to evict her from the land.
Ms Maina on Monday filed an appeal at the Nyeri Environment and Land Court against a ruling that ordered her to vacate the four-acre parcel of land initially owned by Rev Njoya’s father, Nahashon Murere.
She filed the appeal through the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida).
She is fighting Nyeri senior principal magistrate Phillip Mutua’s decision that declined to declare her the legal proprietor of the Nyeri land.
Instead, the magistrate ruled that she is a trespasser in the property and directed her to voluntarily vacate the land, failure to which an eviction order would be issued and she would bear the cost of the eviction.
Fida says it is dissatisfied with the magistrate’s decision, arguing Mr Mutua erred in law for failing to give Ms Maina an opportunity to cross-examine Rev Njoya during the hearing of the case.
The organisation’s lawyer Catherine Murefu indicated that the magistrate also failed to give Ms Maina an opportunity to participate in the proceedings either personally or through her advocate.
“The magistrate erred in law in failing to consider the appellant’s (Ms Maina) submissions. He also failed to consider the submissions of her advocate,” said lawyer Murefu. Ms Maina was also slapped with costs of the case, which was to be assessed later.
She further criticised the magistrate for issuing the eviction order and directing Ms Maina to pay Rev Njoya Sh100,000 as nominal general damages for trespass.
Both Rev Njoya and Ms Maina have since 2005 been engaging in a protracted court battle over the ownership of the land.
Ms Maina insisted that she was the wife to Rev Njoya’s father, Nahashon Murere, for 19 years from 1977 to 1996 when he died.
She produced a statement by Thimba clan elders of Ngoru village, Muhito location showing that she and Mr Murere were cohabiting.
“On February 5, 1977, the deceased paid a visit to my home in Nyeri and informed my parents that he had the intention to marry me,” said Ms Maina in her evidence.
She said before Mr Murere’s death, they were living together on the disputed land, which Ms Maina considers as her matrimonial home.