The succession battle for the estate of the late Nakuru tycoon Eliakim Washington Olweny has revealed the great lengths individuals will go in their quest to benefit from the estate of deceased persons. Perusal of the various lawsuits filed by parties in the legal dispute reveals the behind-the-scenes intrigues. It is a tale filled with allegations of forgery and falsifying birth records of children, illegal procurement of a child and his exploitation to gain a foothold in succession proceedings, skilful manipulation of the judicial system by peddling of falsehoods to obtain court orders, women publicly disowning their husbands and children their real fathers. It all started in November of 2016 when Eliakim Washington Olweny succumbed after a long battle with cancer. This was despite receiving the best medical treatment money could buy, both locally and abroad, at enormous cost and being nursed at home for long periods solely by his legitimate family. As part of the preparations for his burial, his family published a funeral announcement in the newspapers in early December of 2016.
The burial ceremony was scheduled for December 17 2016. Two women, Norah Atieno and Anne Wanjiru immediately moved to court and obtained an injunction restraining the family from proceeding with the burial. Norah Atieno was an unsuccessful political aspirant for a civic seat in Nakuru in the 1992 general elections when Eliakim Olweny was an official of Ford Kenya party. She runs a hostel business owned by the deceased. Anne Wanjiru was his former secretary in the survey firm Olweny and Associates. They moved to court after his death now claiming to be wives of the deceased tycoon, alleging they and their children had been excluded from participation in burial proceedings and the newspaper announcement. At no time did the two women question the right of his wife, Phelesiah Olweny, and her children to bury the deceased, nor was his final resting place at his home in Ugenya, Siaya county, the subject of any dispute. In support of her claim Norah Atieno alleged she got married to the late Olweny customarily in 1992 as his second wife. She paraded witnesses to the ceremony who claimed to be brothers of the deceased, only for it to be established later that they had no blood relation to him and were merely villagers for hire!
Eliakim Washington Olweny[/caption]She admitted in sworn court documents to have been previously married and divorced, but did not mention the husband by name, nor did she attach any documents confirming the dissolution of her marriage to her husband. She confessed to have had four children named Lavender Amondi, Linda Beatrice Akinyi, Irene Florence Awuor and Dorine Lydia Anyango from the previous marriages in 1980, 1982, 1986 and 1992 respectively, but further alleged that she had a child named John Kevin Odhiambo with the deceased in 1999. She attached birth certificates of all her children bearing the name of Eliakim Olweny as the father. Curiously, even those born from her previous marriage before she allegedly met the deceased still bore the name Eliakim Olweny as their father. On the witness stand in court, she has recently changed her story and now alleges Dorine Lydia Anyango, born in 1992, is also the late Olweny’s biological child. Norah Atieno also presented copies of an application for change of her name, from Norah Atieno Wesonga to Norah Atieno Olweny, filed with the registrar of persons in 1995, accompanied by affidavits sworn in the Magistrate’s Court in Kitale, Trans Nzoia. The documents show her marital status at the time of request for the name change as a spinster, not a divorcee, and the marriage date to Eliakim Olweny as February 3 1993 and not 1992 as per her previous testimony. When contacted, the chief magistrate’s court in Kitale, in a letter dated August 4 2017 was not able to verify the authenticity of the documents presented by Ms Atieno in court. It is suspicious that at no time did she bother to change her surname to Odhiambo during her marriage to her husband. He was a man of humble means. Anna Wanjiru, on her part, claims in court documents to be the third wife of the late tycoon, alleging to have lived with him as husband and wife since 1983. However, in an interesting twist, she later filed a court decree as evidence of divorce from her husband Ben Kabogo Njoroge dated August 3 1989, six years after she alleged cohabitation with the tycoon commenced. In any case, based on the foregoing, Anne Wanjiru should have been the second wife and Norah Atieno the third! Anne Wanjiru, however, admitted that her alleged marriage was never formalised, that all her five children were from marriage to Ben Kabogo Njoroge in the years 1967, 1970, 1971, 1975 and 1977. She did not submit any document whatsoever to support any of her claims.
Despite the Olweny family finding their predicament distasteful, the claims inaccurate, the documents fraudulent and the court rulings unfair, they were painfully aware of the public embarrassment the matter was causing the family and the inordinate delay any protracted legal battles would cause in laying their loved one to rest.
They made the difficult decision to settle the burial dispute by consent, allowing Norah Atieno and Anna Wanjiru to participate in the burial on the understanding that this would not be interpreted to confer legitimacy to their claim of being family members. The burial eventually took place on January 21 2021, almost two months after the death of Eliakim Olweny. The two women and their children got their wish to attend the burial but under heavy police presence to protect them from irate villagers, incensed by the humiliation they had caused the family and the delay in laying their kin to rest. They, however, did not pass on the opportunity to distribute a few copies of their own version of the burial programme and take a few pictures of the ceremony. These were crucial for the execution of the next phase of their plan. Barely three weeks after the burial of Eliakim Olweny, Norah Atieno and Anna Wanjiru were back in court. Emboldened by their apparent victory in the Magistrate’s Court, they filed citation proceedings in the High Court in Nakuru, seeking to compel the widow, Phelesiah Olweny, to petition for letters of administration of the late tycoon, asking the court to grant them the right to file for the same in default.
They were handicapped in two aspects. They were unable to get the signatures of the bona fide family members, without which the petition would not be legitimate, and secondly, they did not have knowledge of the tycoon’s properties, which had always been in the control of Phelesiah Olweny and her children. Their strategy was therefore to compel the family to petition for the letters of administration, in the process disclosing the properties in question, then file an objection to the petition.
Meanwhile, unknown to them, the Olweny family procured the services of a private investigation firm to unearth the glaring irregularities they noted in the documents presented by Norah Atieno in court. The findings were shocking! All the original birth records of Norah Atieno’s first four children at the registrar of births stated their father as George Eric Odhiambo Aduol and confirmed Norah Atieno Odhiambo as married to him. She has since denied under oath ever being married to the father of her children with whom they cohabited for over 11 years. She refers to him as a mere boyfriend who never paid dowry to her parents. George Odhiambo’s family, however, claim she was customarily married to George Odhiambo, he paid dowry to Norah’s parents in Asembo, Siaya county, and he built her a home in Gem, Siaya county which exists to this day.
George Odhiambo has since passed away, but his family still lay claim to George’s children and are saddened by the current turn of events. On varying dates between the years 1998 and 1999, Norah Atieno applied for and obtained new birth certificates for all her older children, but now fraudulently inserting the name of Eliakim Olweny as their father. She subsequently also procured national IDs bearing the surname Olweny for all of them. The registrar of births has since nullified all the birth certificates that were fraudulently obtained for all of Norah Atieno’s children and confirmed the ones bearing the surname Odhiambo as the genuine ones. However, since the registrar of persons is not formally aware of this cancellation, they all still carry national IDs bearing the Olweny name. Norah Atieno and her children have since filed a constitutional petition in the court in Nakuru seeking to have this decision by the registrar of births overturned. The findings relating to the alleged biological child John Kelvin Odhiambo alias John Kevin Odhiambo read like the script of a bestselling crime novel. His birth certificate produced by Norah Atieno in court stated the date of birth as November 9 1999, place of birth as Viwanda, a location in Nakuru, and the parents as Norah Atieno Olweny and Eliakim Washington Olweny.
It was issued in Nakuru in the year 2012 after Norah Atieno completed an application for a child allegedly born at home and made through the local chief 13 years after the stated date of birth. A letter from the school the child attended and attached to the application for the birth certificate stated a different birth date, November 11 1999. Investigators also traced another registered birth for a child named John Kelvin Odhiambo at Gomongo Huruma maternity home in Nairobi on September 12 1999, two months earlier. The parents’ names on the birth registration documents were Norah Atieno Wasonga and Washington Olweny Odawa. The mother’s signature, however, did not resemble that of Norah Atieno, and the midwife’s notes stated this was the first child of the mother who gave birth. This would have been Norah Atieno’s fifth child. Given that Eliakim Olweny was a man of means and a shareholder at one of the top private hospitals in Nakuru, it was curious that a child claimed to be his would be born at a clinic in a low-income settlement like Huruma. It is also noteworthy that Huruma was the venue of the child trafficking ring allegedly perpetrated by evangelical preacher Bishop Gilbert Deya.
Norah Atieno more recently complicated the picture even further by claiming in a sworn statement upon arrest by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and verbally in court under oath that the same child was born while en route to Nairobi from Nakuru to attend an antenatal clinic. She was traveling in public means and alleges she went into labour and was assisted to deliver by good Samaritans who happened to be healthcare workers. She claims not to know their names but was subsequently taken to a health facility nearby in the Uplands area, a facility whose name she also conveniently does not remember! This health facility should have been the one tasked with issuing the birth notification to the registrar of births. The registrar of births has since nullified the second birth certificate issued to John Kevin Odhiambo in Nakuru based on fraudulent double registration. However, questions remain as to the real birth date, location, and whom the real mother of John Kevin Odhiambo is. Based on the foregoing, this child has two birth certificates, three possible birth locations and three different dates of birth.
The Olweny family has consistently maintained that they would like Norah Atieno and the child subjected to DNA testing to establish if she is the child’s biological mother as she alleges, and if it is established not to be the case she be compelled to explain how she came to be in possession of the baby. It is rumoured that the child is commonly referred to as CK in their household, an abbreviation for Calvin Kamau which was his original name. Norah Atieno Wasonga alias Norah Elizabeth Atieno alias Norah Atieno Olweny was arrested in June 2018 and charged with eight counts of obtaining registration by false pretences and providing false statements for registration of birth. Criminal proceedings are ongoing before Nakuru Chief Magistrate Josephat Kalo. When Phelesiah Olweny and her children filed a petition for the letters of administration for the estate of Eliakim Olweny, Norah Atieno and Anne Wanjiru promptly filed objections in the matter, alleging that they were also widows yet the petitioners had not consulted or recognised them, and thereby failed to disclose their interest or entitlement as beneficiaries of the tycoon’s estate.
Before the hearing of the objections commenced before Justice Teresia Matheka in the High Court in Nakuru, the Eliakim and Phelesiah Olweny’s last born son, Allan Olweny, filed an application in October 2019 requesting the court to determine the status of the two women, as to whether they are really widows and therefore validly before court. His argument before court is that both women had not terminated their marriages to their husbands and therefore could not validly contract a marriage to their father, or any other man for that matter. In addition, his late father also wed his mother, Phelesiah Olweny, in a Christian church ceremony in 1966 and therefore lacked the legal capacity to contract another marriage. He also tables an affidavit by his late father from a previous case in which Anne Wanjiru had sued his father, attempting to force him to gift her a residential property she resided in as an employee of his survey firm. In his defence, Eliakim Olweny clearly stated in an affidavit that the only relationship that existed between him and Anne Wanjiru was that of an employer and employee. Her case was dismissed. Interestingly, Norah Atieno has since disowned Anne Wanjiru on the witness stand declaring she was not a wife of Eliakim Olweny but a mere employee. This is despite filing multiple court matters jointly with her as a co-wife. This marriage of convenience seems to be over.
The hearing continues