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Confusion as court stops Kibra MP Okoth’s burial

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 00:00 |
Ken Okoth’s mother Angeline Ongere (left) with her daughter Martha Atieno at the Moi Girls School Kibra, Nairobi, during the memorial service of the MP, yesterday. Photo/TABITHA MBATIA

Irene Githinji, Bernice Mbugua and Alvin Mwangi @PeopleDailyKe

Interment plans for the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth were yesterday thrown into confusion after the court granted an injunction to a woman demanding recognition as his other wife and their son. 

 Commercial Senior Principal Magistrate Grace Ayuma Mmasi issued the temporary orders pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by Anne Muthoni Thumbi, who wants her son recognised and involved in the funeral arrangements.

All the burial plans were subsequently thrown into disarray with Okoth’s family, friends and the burial committee now forced to go back to the drawing board. 

According to earlier plans, Okoth’s body was supposed to be flown to Homa Bay for a funeral service then handed to the family to make the next move. His paternal relatives were, however, demanding that he be buried next to his father in Homa Bay county. His wife on other hand said he would be cremated according to his wishes.   

The court move immediately drew fury but also some praise. Vocal Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo, through her Facebook posting, threatened to sponsor amendments to the Marriage Act that would compel all married men to publicly declare all children sired in and out of wedlock.

 But family lawyer Judith Thongori, was more guarded, saying men and their partners need to be much clearer on matters of their relationships to avoid such hiccups.

“Let me not comment on what Hon Odhiambo has said, but men and women should look ahead of them and be clear about their relationships. Such embarrassments can be better sorted out if the two parties entered into something more binding ahead,” she said.

Prominent politicians sucked in were former Prime Minister and ODM leader Raila Odinga, his Wiper Party and ANC counterparts Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi respectively, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna.

Raila said Okoth had left a legacy and deserves to be respected as he is laid to rest, pointing out that  the family including his wife Monica, mother Anjelina Ajwang’ brothers and sister have been cooperative adding he has had an opportunity to sit down with them.   

“They all have understood each other and we are sure he will be laid to rest just as he wanted. I know even at home there will be no problem, everything will go on well,” Raila said.

Suits unnecessary 

Kalonzo demanded that the grieving family be respected and condemned the idea of rushing to court to sort out issues, saying it could bring unnecessary disrepute to Okoth’s character.

“Maybe there are no issues at all, nothing extraordinary and I find rushing to court over things that are in the open uncalled for. Judiciary should also be looking into some of these issues and try arbitration, this is improper and can be negotiated,” said Kalonzo, adding:

 “What is the motivation for unnecessary court proceedings, Anita should be spoken out of it for the burial to take place and if the child belongs to Okoth, what else do we need?”

Ms Thumbi, who claims to have a child with the late Kibra MP, has sued Okoth’s mother Angelina,   his wife Monica and the Lee Funeral Home where his remains are preserved.

The nominated MCA claims she had a relationship with Ken Okoth since 2013 which resulted in the birth of their son in 2016.

“Subsequent to the birth of the minor, Okoth acknowledged and stepped up his parental responsibilities without failure and would regularly care for the minor and my needs by extension during his lifetime,” said Thumbi in court documents.    

She added: “He (Okoth) was a good man and a good father…he never failed to discharge his parental responsibilities.” She said following the MPs death, his relatives have deliberately and maliciously excluded her and the minor from participating in final rites and only learn of arrangements from the media, causing her anguish and emotional torture.  

 Through lawyer Elkana Mogaka, she is further seeking orders against Ken Okoth’s Estate requesting the immediate and lump sum payment of his son’s school fees pending the hearing and determination of the suit.

Urgent matter

Magistrate Mmasi certified the matter as urgent, and directed the case to be heard on August 9.

And at Okoth’s funeral service at Moi Girls Nairobi school, drama intensified when Nairobi Governor, Mike Sonko took to the podium and blew the lid off the alleged Okoth and Thumbi affair by declaring that Thumbi and her five- year- old son, Okoth, be fully recognised.

Sonko sent mourners into confusion when he narrated how Okoth met Thumbi, then a nurse with the Sonko Rescue Team, during a medical camp held in 2013 in Kibra and how it eventually led to a relationship whose product, he averred was the little boy. 

 “We are not happy to see what is happening in the social media. Mimi najua ukweli kabisa. 2013 tulikuwa na medical camp hapa Kibra na kwa sababu Sonko rescue team iko na wasichana warembo, Ken alimpenda Anita. Mimi ni shahidi Najua walipata kijana (I know the truth, in 2013 we had a medical camp in Kibra and because Sonko Rescue team has beautiful girls, Ken loved Anita and I am a witness they had a boy,” Sonko said.

He went on to disclose that after the 2017 general election, Okoth asked him to nominate Thumbi as a Member of Nairobi County Assembly (MCA) and because he respected him much, he did so.  

Sonko’s outbursts came flying right in front of Okoth’s wife Monica Lavender, who stared on.  

And perhaps realising the discomfort he had caused the widow, Sonko quickly said he fully respects Monica but he had to speak “the truth since I was a witness to what was happening behind the scenes”.

“Okoth left a child behind also known as Okoth…His child is going through a lot and deserves to be recognised,” he said.

Talk her out

The Governor said that Thumbi had vowed to stop the burial but he came in and convinced her out of that move.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta passed a motion allowing people to marry more than one wife. I also have two wives,” he continued undeterred.

But speakers who mourned Okoth after Sonko were obviously outraged by his outburst and demanded respect.

Senator Sakaja termed Sonko’s outbursts as disrespectful, saying he knew Okoth as a man of dignity. 

“I know there are allegations that have been made on this podium. I knew Ken to be a man of dignity. Okoth’s personal matters should not be broadcast to the public. Ken was a respected man. And, we know that he has left this world having adequately planned the welfare of his family,” he said.

“For the respect that we all should accord Ken, let those claims be limited to this event. We, as his brothers, who knew him so well and loved him, we will give Ken the respect and honour that he deserves,” he added.

Okoth’s mother, Anjeline Ojwang had few days ago warned women from coming forth to claim they had children with him saying his son had only one wife and did not have a baby.

The social media went ablaze following Sonko’s outbursts with the comments attracting mixed reactions.

While some said it was a good move, others condemned him saying it was not his call.

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