Ringera-list judges eye millions in damages

Saturday November 13 2010

FILE | NATION Justice (Rtd) Aaron Ringera addresses journalists. He denied claims that he was involved in a plot to assassinate former PS John Githongo.

FILE | NATION Justice (Rtd) Aaron Ringera addresses journalists. He denied claims that he was involved in a plot to assassinate former PS John Githongo. 

By SAM KIPLAGAT [email protected]

The much-touted radical surgery on the Judiciary spearheaded by retired Judge Aaron Ringera seven years ago might turn out to be very costly for Kenyan taxpayers.

This follows revelations that some of the judges, who have since been cleared and reinstated to the Bench, are planning to sue for compensation. One of the judges has filed a case demanding more than Sh38 million.

In the case, Mr Justice Daniel Aganyanya, now a Court of Appeal Judge, accuses Chief Justice Evan Gicheru of wounding him economically after taking away his allowances.

Case was bolstered

And on Thursday the judge’s case was bolstered after the State disclosed it will not be appealing the decision to clear Mr Justice Moijo ole Keiwua of corruption charges levelled against him.

In the historic judgment, Justices Muga Apondi, George Dulu and Mohamed Warsame indicted President Kibaki, Mr Justice Gicheru and the tribunal appointed to investigate Judge ole Keiwua. The judges ruled that Justice ole Keiwua was not treated fairly, impartially and properly.

Ten accusations had been levelled against the judge, including abuse of his office as a judicial officer.

Two other judges who were removed from the Judiciary have used the ole Keiwua case to argue the illegality of their sacking.

Among the complaints Justice Aganyanya cites in his suit is that his son was due to enter university but lost his slot because he was not in a position to pay his fees.

The tribunal appointed to hear evidence implicating the Court of Appeal judges was set up by President Kibaki on October 15, 2003; on January 24, 2007, Justice Aganyanya was cleared of any wrongdoing.

In its ruling, the tribunal said the evidence produced before it was a concoction of rumours laced with hearsay and would not pass the lowest test of credibility in any judicial proceedings.

Justice Aganyanya, who has served as a judge for about 30 years, said the Chief Justice suspended him without offering him any explanation.

The judge said he was also denied allowances he would have earned as a commissioner and vice-chairman of the Goldenberg commission of inquiry.

In response, the CJ has distanced himself from the suspension of Justice Aganyanya in 2003, saying all he did was make a report to the President. The CJ also said that due process was followed when the judge was reinstated after being cleared by the tribunal.

Illegality

Another judge, Justice Roselyn Nambuye, is also pursing an appeal after a judge of the High Court rejected an application she had filed complaining of the illegality of the tribunal.

Through State counsel Anthony Ombwayo, the State conceded that her appeal raised “weighty issues”. Lady Justice Nambuye’s lawyer Peter Simani told the judges that he would be pursuing the appeal because of damages and costs of the suit.

Lady Justice Nambuye was reinstated in November 2007 through a gazette notice and immediately resumed duty. She now heads the Family Division of the High Court in Nairobi.

In the purge of the Judiciary, 23 judges and 73 magistrates were suspended on October 14, 2003. Most opted to retire, but seven judges chose to face the tribunal. The judges so far reinstated are Justices Philip Waki, ole Keiwua, Aganyanya, Mbogholi Msagha and Nambuye.