• Even before the formation of the Ringera Commission, which was tasked to clean Kenya’s Judiciary, Aganyanya had already gone public about the rot in the corridors of justice. He would be tormented for that but he stood firm.
• He approached three different chief justices of his time to discuss how to end corruption within the Judiciary, but sadly, his efforts went south.
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 in 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 Justice Aganyanya five years ago at his Cheptulu home in Vihiga, when I was a rookie reporter, just from college. Local journalists had been invited to cover the launch of his book, The Judicial Purge 2003 That Never Was. And as you would expect, at the launch, there was no fanfare, no hype, but a clique of journalists and a man ready to pour out his heart.
Indeed, today, I have forgotten 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 said.
“Do not ask for something extra on top of what is legally yours."
And this is precisely what Aganyanya explores at length in the 55-page book: The chronicles of a man sacrificed on the very altar of fighting graft.
Even way before the formation of the Ringera Commission that was tasked to clean up Kenya’s Judiciary, Aganyanya had already gone public about the rot in the corridors of justice.
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, but sadly, as he recounts in the book, his efforts went south.
To his shock, however, it would turn out that he had just backed the wrong horse! Instead, he was branded a black sheep by the cartels who wanted him hounded out of the corridors of justice.
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."
Aganyanya, however, refused to go down without putting up a spirited fight. He knew he was innocent.
For almost a year, he 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 to be baseless, hearsay and rumours!
Unlike some of his colleagues who cringed and walked away from the harsh indictment by the Ringera report, Aganyanya was determined to take the bull by its horns.
Today, he is no more. He 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.
We can learn incredible lessons from Aganyanya’s trodden path in the Judiciary.
He left the judicial service on February 1, 2012, after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 74. He served in the Court of Appeal for four years, the High Court for over 20 years, and several years as a magistrate. He remained faithful to the course, even when junior judges bypassed him in the 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 cry for ourselves. Let’s shed tears every time it hits us that we have moved away from the ethos espoused by Aganyanya. We must never allow the good jurist to turn in his grave!
Fare thee well fighter! Adieu Justice Aganyanya!
The writer is a broadcast journalist at BBC Africa