The High Court in Fort Portal has ruled that the case of land involving Beatrice Nyindombi Karanja, the wife of former Kenyan Vice President Dr. Josephat Njuguna, should continue and be heard on its merits. Justice Vincent Wagona reached the decision after dismissing the preliminary points of law raised by Nyindombi through her lawyer. Nyindombi had sought the dismissal of the fraud case filed against her in 2019 by the late Juma Hussein on the grounds that it was filed late.
The late Juma Hussein, a resident of Fort Portal accused Nyindombi of encroachment on a 73-hectare parcel of land comprising Block 45, Plot 7 in Harugongo Sub County. The dispute dates back to 1990 when Juma fell ill and borrowed 12,000 Kenyan Shillings from Nyindombi for treatment. Documents indicate that Juma’s health did not improve, and in 1997, he requested an additional loan of 1,150,000 Ugandan Shillings from Nyindombi. Nyindombi, who was in Kenya at the time, sent the money through her brother, identified as Kahwa, who delivered it to Juma.
As part of the loan agreement, Nyindombi requested the lease title of Juma’s land as security, which he handed over. However, after Juma’s passing, his family members, including Hakim Hussein, Rehema Namara Hussein, Fahmi Hussein Kahuma, Mariam Hussein, Jamila Hussein Karungi, and Aisha Hussein were substituted as petitioners. During the court proceedings, Nyindombi’s lawyer, Macdusman Kabega, argued that the case should be dismissed on the grounds of limitation, as it was filed out of time.
He contended that fraud, as an exception, applies from the time it is discovered or reasonably deemed to have been discovered. Kabega also noted that the suit was filed in 2019, 19 years after the land transfer in 1990. “That there is also evidence that the defendant was in possession and Juma sat on his rights and thus his claim is caught by law. That the action by him against the defendant is caught by the law of limitation,” Kabega submitted.
On the other hand, the Husseins, through their lawyer Richard Bwiruka, argued that Juma had given Nyindombi a certificate of title as security, and in 2010, she requested permission to use his land, which he granted. However, in 2014, Juma claimed that Nyindombi asked him to sign blank transfer forms under the pretext of addressing encroachment issues, but the title was transferred without his knowledge, consent, or approval.
The alleged fraud was discovered in 2019 and falls within the permissible exceptions of the limitation period. In his ruling, Justice Wagona dismissed Nyindombi’s submissions, saying that fraud can be pleaded anytime one discovers it. “My duty at this stage in answering the question of whether a suit is barred by limitation is restricted to a perusal of the plaint and annexure.
The dates stated therein and the exception pleaded by the plaintiff,” said Wagona. He added that after perusal, the cause of action arose in 2019 when the plaintiff discovered the fraud, and the suit was filed in 2019 within 12 years under the Limitation Act. Consequently, Justice Wagona overruled Kabega’s submissions and directed that the trial of the case should continue on its merits.