KENYA – Newton Kagiri Mukuha, the eldest of three brothers fighting in court over control of supermarket chain Naivas, has claimed that his siblings may have secretly sold off the company despite pending suits in Nairobi and Nakuru.
Mr Mukuha last week filed a fresh application in the Milimani High Court seeking to stop his younger brothers from interfering with Naivas’ ownership structure until the protracted legal battle for control of the retail chain is determined.
The businessman says in court papers that he has been unable to ascertain from the companies’ registrar whether any changes in ownership have been effected and fears that his siblings may seal the alleged sale of the multibillion-shilling stores before he can get results from the companies’ registry.
Mr Mukuha last week claimed in court through lawyer Waweru Kamuti that senior managers of Naivas have been telling staff to prepare for major changes, a move the businessman insists is a hint at new management following the retail chain’s sale.
But the businessman’s siblings Simon Gashwe Mukuha and David Kimani Mukuha hold that the application is an attempt by their elder brother to manipulate the legal process, as the issues raised are the same ones in two other applications pending ruling on June 24 before the same judge—Eric Ogola.
“In spite of the fact that there is pending litigation with respect to the suit herein, Newton Kagiri Mukuha has reason to believe that there has been a change of circumstances whereupon Simon Gashwe Mukuha and David Kimani Mukuha have sold shares to third parties or in some way adversely dealt in the shares and property of Naivas,” says Newton Mukuha.
His brothers however hold that no evidence has been produced to show that they have sold the company, and that the company has actually been opening new branches.
They want Justice Ogola to suspend the hearing of the case as there is a separate suit in the Milimani High Court and a succession battle before the Nakuru High Court in which similar issues have been raised and are pending ruling.
Newton Mukuha filed the case in 2013 claiming that his brothers hijacked Naivas, a family business, and excluded him from the list of shareholders despite contributing millions of shillings to set up the retail chain.
“The matter herein is sub judice and a grave abuse of the process of this honourable court as the plaintiff had made similar applications seeking injunction orders which were heard on various dates early this year and ruling reserved to be delivered on June 24, 2016,” the younger brothers say in their objection to the application.
“The company is vibrant and has even opened new branches. There is no evidence that the company is being sold. We undertake that nothing will happen until the hearing,” added Thuita Kiiru, the younger brothers’ lawyer.
Newton says Naivas’ file at the companies registry is old hence verifying its content will take time.
He claims in court documents that Naivas was started in 1990 as a family business called Rongai Self Service Stores but that his two siblings incorporated it as a company three years later in their names.
He adds that he discovered the alleged fraud by his brothers in 2013, forcing him to file the suit.