Editor’s Note: Francis Ontomwa, a Broadcast journalist at BBC Africa lends a glimpse into the late Justice Daniel Aganyanya’s fight against graft that put him in the cross-hairs of the rotten system.
A good man has left us. Former judge of the Court of Appeal Justice (Rtd) Daniel Kennedy Sultan Aganyanya breathed his last on Friday, January 17 just a fortnight away from his 82nd birthday.
To those who knew him, Justice Aganyanya was a man of few words, a kind soul and a lover of humanity. He spent half his adult life dispensing justice. Born from a poor background in a small village called Kisasi in Tiriki land, Aganyanya refused to let his physical challenges stop him from advancing to the highest levels of the Kenyan judiciary.
I first met the late Justice Aganyanya five years ago at his Cheptulu home in Vihiga, then as a rookie reporter, just from college. Local journalists had been invited to cover his book launch, ‘The Judicial Purge 2003 That Never Was. And as you would expect it, at the launch, there was no fanfare, no hype, just a clique of journalists and a man ready to pour out his heart.
Certainly, today, I have lost memory of most of the things he said during that event, but not this one.
“The world would be a better place for all of us if only everyone said no to corruption” “Do not eat twice” he remarked. “Do not ask for something extra on top of what is legally yours.”
And this is precisely what Justice Aganyanya explores at length in his 55 page book–‘The Judicial Purge 2003 That Never Was’. The chronicles of a man sacrificed on the very altar of fighting graft.
He wanted someone to crack the whip. And he knew how, he approached three different chief justices of his time to discuss how to end corruption within the judiciary, sadly as he recounts in the book, his efforts went west.
To his shocker, he was branded a black sheep by the cartels who wanted him hounded out of the corridors of justice.
In one of the chapters in the book Aganyanya posits how he came to learn of his name in the Ringera list.
“I looked quite foolish when I came to learn that my name was on the list of corrupt judges through an announcement on the radio and televisions”
Justice Aganyanya however refused to go down without putting up a spirited fight. He knew he was innocent.
For almost a year, Justice Aganyanya religiously appeared before the tribunal, which was headed by retired Chief Justice Majid Cockar.
The tribunal dismissed all the 11 charges filed against Justice Aganyanya. His accusations were found baseless, hearsays and rumours!
Unlike some of his colleagues who simply cringed and walked away from the indictment by the Ringera report, Justice Aganyanya was determined to face the bull by its horns!
Today, he is no more, he has finished his race, but the fight is far from over! Corruption is still rife in our lives, not just in the judiciary but in all other arms of government. Deeply entrenched!
Such incredible lessons from Aganyanya’s trodden path in the judiciary.
He came out of the judicial service on 1st February 2012 after attaining the mandatory age of 74. He served in the Court of Appeal for four years, High court for over 20 years and several years as a magistrate. He remained true to the course even when junior judges came and bypassed him in hierarchy.
He spoke truth to power from his vantage point of knowledge and wisdom. He wanted a world that would allow every child to dream and achieve their ambitions. A world that would not despise the physically challenged but support them!
Throughout his tenure on the bench, Justice Aganyanya endeavoured to help the less fortunate and to train those who cared to follow his footsteps.
His tormentors got it all wrong!
In the sands of our time, Justice Aganyanya has left an indelible mark! Let us not cry for him but instead let’s cry for ourselves, let’s shed tears every time it hits us that we have moved away the ethos espoused by Justice Aganyanya! We must never allow the good jurist to turn in his grave! Fare thee well fighter! Adieu Justice Aganyanya!
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