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BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,8TH MAY,2020-The children of the late Cabinet Minister Njenga Karume who have been living in squalor can now breathe a sigh of relief after the High Court ordered the removal of three trustees managing their father’s assets.
Justice Roselyn Aburili said the interests of the children and the beneficiaries under Njenga Karume Trust would be served best by the removal of George Waireri, Kungu Gatabaki and Margaret Kamithi as trustees of the Njenga Karume Trust and the Njenga Karume Trust registered Trustees.
The three will now be required to give an account of all transactions undertaken, payments made and funds received and expenditures incurred on behalf of the Njenga Karume Trust since February 24, 2012 to date.
Once the accounts are rendered, Aburili said the court shall determine whether there was any dishonesty on the part of the Trustees in their dealings with the Trust assets. Indemnity of the trust she said shall be ordered only after such evidence discloses dishonesty on the part of the Trustees.
James Kamau from he law firm of of Iseme Kamau and Maema (IKM) Advocates shall supervise the exit process for the removed trustees who shall prepare and file into court the said accounts within the next 180 days.
IKM Advocates helped the late Karume prepare a will following his death in February 2012 and the deceased also left a declaration of Trust dated May 3, 2011 incorporating the Njenga Karume Trust.
In a 136-page decision, the judge said the law firm will undertake the process of nominating the persons to fill the vacancies of the removed trustees, taking into account the provisions of a certain clause in the deed that the chairman of the trust shall not be a beneficiary.
The decision to remove the three trustees follow after Albert Karume, Samuel Karume and Lucy Wanjiru (the children and beneficiaries of the Njenga Karume Trust) claimed they were appointed unprocedurally.
During the hearing, Waireri testified that his appointment arose out of the retirement of Attorney General Kihara Kariuki as the chairman and that the resigning trustee approached him through IKM Advocates with wishes that he joins the trust. His appointment documents were also signed by Kariuki.
The judge said an analysis of the evidence and provisions of the Trust Deed clearly indicates that the remaining trustees did not follow the provisions of the said Deed in appointing the two trustees Waireri and Kamithi.
“Appointment of Waireri and Kamithi as trustees after the demise of the founder and resignation of Justice Kihara was unprocedural and in gross violation of the express provisions of the Trust Deed.”
The judge said the trustees are found to have breached the provisions of the trust deed by failing to comply with its express provision in relation to appointment of the new trustees being Gatabaki and Kamithi.
She further faulted the trustees’ decision to stop payment of maintenance allowances to the beneficiaries in December 2014.
She said allegations of lack of funds was not justified as no evidence was tendered before court to show that there were no funds available. “No information was supplied to the beneficiaries on the state of the funds for disbursements and the need to suspend the same,”she said
On the contrary, judge said there were funds in the accounts and there was no evidence to show that those funds were exclusively reserved for any other justifiable priority project. The trustees did not controvert this evidence.
The judge also noted that the trustees never kept any book of accounts as required by law and as was expressly directed by the founder in the Trust Deed. This was the reason why the trustees could not produce any audited accounts before the court.
They were also unable to produce statements of expenditure of some Sh280 million which was held in a Cooperative Bank account. The money had been left behind by the founder for purposes of settling of debts.
The tustees had also been accused of commencing some transactions disposing off the assets of the Trust without notifying the beneficiaries. The assets in question were among others South C property, Saw mill and a property in Kiambu property.