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Karumes drop case on lawyers in fight for multi-billion empire

Lawyers for Njenga Karume’s children questioning his Will on Tuesday withdrew an application seeking to block a former Nairobi deputy mayor from the dispute.

Lady Justice Lydia Achode allowed withdrawal of the application, which cleared the firm of Iseme, Kamau and Maema Advocates of allegations of theft raised against it by rival Muriu, Mungai and Company Advocates.

The decision came after law firm accused its competitor of maliciously dragging its name into the dispute over Mr Karume’s multi-billion shilling business empire.

Senior Counsel George Oraro, accused Muriu firm of advocates of lying to the court over the alleged theft.

“The firm representing the applicants knows it cannot adduce facts to malign their professional colleagues under the guise of a preliminary objection,” Mr Oraro said.

LOGGERHEADS

Mr Karume’s sons and daughter, Ms Lucy Wanjiru, Mr Samuel Wanjema and Mr Albert Kigera, who are at loggerheads with the trustees and executors — including their brother and sisters — over management of their father’s wealth last week filed an application to stop the Iseme, Kamau and Maema advocates from representing any party in the dispute.

They argued that firm had drawn the Will, giving rise to the dispute and that the firm could be a potential witness in its objection to the running of the Njenga Karume Trust.

The Iseme firm, however, said an earlier affidavit sworn by Ms Lucy Karume and drawn by the Muriu advocates said “she was well aware that their father sold a property known as Riara Farm and used the proceeds to settle his debts, and as at the time of his death, his bank and corporate accounts had about Sh200 million.”

Iseme said in its response filed through Hamilton Harrison and Mathews — Incorporating Oraro and Company Advocates — that the allegations were baseless and that the application to strike them off the dispute was an abuse of the court process.

Mr Oraro said it was clear the Iseme firm was drawn into the proceedings in their capacity as advocates of Mr Karume, and that the firm was specifically appointed in Mr Karume’s written Will and Trust Deed to represent the executors and trustees.

“An application for disqualification cannot be by way of preliminary objection, unless it has been pleaded and facts adduced. It is an abuse of process as it purports to introduce the firm into the proceedings by way of a procedure that is contrary to the provisions of the law,” Mr Oraro said.

RECKLESS

The Iseme firm also accused the Muiru firm of advocates of being reckless and insincere, arguing that it was the duty and obligation of every lawyer to think hard and be satisfied that there were valid material and particulars before making any claims against fellow professionals.

“Commencing the application for disqualification and making false allegations while shielding those making such allegations from cross-examination and denying Iseme the right of response is contrary to the Constitution,” Mr Oraro said.

He added that it was wrong for the children’s lawyer to claim on one hand that the dispute was with regard to the provisions of both Karume’s Will and Trust Deed, while at the same time saying the Iseme company of advocates had no authority to participate in the proceedings.