The estate of former President Daniel arap Moi will continue to face a Sh1.9 billion compensation suit despite the death of a retired spy chief who accused the former head of State of forcibly seizing his property in the 1980s.
The former deputy director of Intelligence Stephen Mwangi Muriithi died on Monday at 84, just weeks to the July 22 hearing of a suit at the Supreme Court in which he accused the late Moi — his former business partner — of unlawfully detaining him without trial so that he would take over jointly held property, including land, buildings and shares in three companies.
The High Court in 2011 awarded him Sh1.9 billion for loss suffered in sale of his properties and damages for illegal detention, but the Court of Appeal overturned the judgment in 2014, triggering an appeal at the Supreme Court.
On Monday, his lawyer Paul Mwangi said Mr Muriithi’s instructions before he died at Nairobi Hospital were that the case proceed to the end.
“His instructions on his death bed through his son was that I must fight his case to the end,” said Mr Mwangi.
Mr Muriithi sued Mr Moi and Raymark Ltd, seeking close to Sh2 billion for unlawful detention, occasioning his financial loss.
He claimed that the former President had him detained without trial in July 1982 in order to take over their joint properties, which they held together with then spymaster James Kanyotu and businessman Sadru Alibhai.
Among the companies in question are Fourways Investments Limited, where Mr Muriithi held 40 percent shareholding, Kanyotu held a similar percentage, while Sadru Alibhai held one percent and the late President 19 percent.
Also in contention is Sheraton Holdings Limited, where he allegedly held 40 percent, Kanyotu 40 and Moi 19 percent and Mokamu Limited, where all the three held 33 percent shareholding each.
These companies owned Kenwood House on Kimathi Street, Atlas Building on Moi Avenue and Ruprani House, but they were sold off while he was in detention.
He also claimed that Mokamu Ltd owned a 1,020-acre parcel of land in Solai, Nakuru County.
In 2011, High Court Judge Jeanne Gacheche ruled in his favour, saying Mr Muriithi’s detention without trial was not for the purpose of preserving public security, but for the late President to secure commercial advantage.
The retired President appealed and in 2014 the Court of Appeal saved him from paying Mr Muriithi more than Sh1.9 billion, saying Mr Moi was not personally responsible for the detention as it was an action of the State.
The Appellate court said Mr Muriithi sued the wrong person, Moi, instead of the minister who issued the order of his detention on behalf of the State.
The court also found he had failed to prove the losses he claimed to have suffered when in detention, nor did he table evidence showing the properties were sold, to whom the sales were done, the consideration and when the sales took place.
The former President died on February 4, 2020, the day the case was slated for hearing at the Supreme Court, forcing the matter to be adjourned.
Mr Muriithi later substituted the executor of Moi’s estate, Senior Counsel Zehrabanu Janmohamed, in the case.
The late Muriithi was among a select few who sued the former President after he left power in 2002.
Former Alego Usonga MP Otieno Mak’Onyango sued the government and Moi for atrocities he suffered when he was detained after the failed coup in 1982, but the court absolved Mr Moi of blame and instead slapped the government with a bill of Sh20 million for the torture the former editor and politician suffered.
Mr Moi’s neighbour in Kabarak, Malcom Bell, also took the former head of State to court, accusing him of illegally taking 100 acres of his land opposite Moi High School, Kabarak. Following a protracted legal battle, the parties entered an agreement to settle the dispute out of court.