Court gives Njoya the go-ahead to evict stepmother

Mary Wangui Maina
Mary Wangui Maina ordered to vacate land. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

A court has allowed retired PCEA cleric Timothy Njoya to evict his stepmother from a four-acre parcel of land owned by his late father in Mukurweini, Nyeri, and asked the woman to pay the cleric Sh100,000 for trespass.

Nyeri Senior Principal Magistrate Phillip Mutua refused to declare Mary Wangui Maina as the owner of the land.

Mr Mutua said Ms Maina should voluntarily vacate the land, which is registered as LR No.Muhito/Thiha/324, within 30 days failure to which an eviction order will be issued and she will bear the cost of the exercise.

Reverend Njoya and Ms Maina have been engaged in a protracted court battle over ownership of the land since 2005.

The court also awarded the Reverend Njoya Sh100,000 as nominal general damages for trespass.

“Any person wrongfully disposed of land has right of recovery and damages in respect to loss suffered,” said Mr Mutua adding that Ms Maina should pay costs of the suit.

Through the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), Ms Maina insisted that she was wife to Reverend Njoya’s father, Nahashon Njoya Murere for 19 years beginning 1977 until his death on January 2, 1996.

She produced a statement by Thimba clan elders of Ngoru village, Muhito Location showing that she and the deceased 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 his demise, they were living together on the disputed land, which Ms Maina considers as her matrimonial home.

“We were blessed with four children— George Mathenge Njoya, Anthony Maingi Njoya, Nelius Muthoni Njoya and Lesho Njoki Njoya. The suit property is part of the estate of my late husband who is also father to the plaintiff,” said Ms Maina. The first two children, she told the court, were from a previous union and the deceased had accepted to look after them as his own.

She also indicated that the Thimba clan elders of Ngoru village, where the deceased came from, had confirmed the marriage under Kikuyu customary laws.

Ms Maina narrated that before the deceased died, he had transferred his homestead from the side of the land owned by the Reverend Njoya to the suit land, where she has lived for 41 years with her four children.

“I began constructing my house in 1981 after the birth of my daughter Nelius 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 I have a right to inherit his share of the property,” said Ms Maina.

The court heard that prior to the deceased’s demise, Reverend Njoya and his siblings were harassing Ms Maina by alleging she was not a wife to their father and hence could not claim any beneficial interest in his property.