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In TJRC Final Report lies another wasted opportunity

By By Chris Obure | Jun 14th 2013 | 4 min read

By Chris Obure

The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) Final Report marks yet another lost opportunity for Kenyans.

When it was formed with the direct support from the international community, many believed for once an initiative had been rolled out that would do the first thorough job in excavating our country’s dark past and prescribing just and healing remedies.

Similar past efforts before it have been half-hearted, poorly conceived and openly bungled due to laziness by those charged with the tasks and often sabotage from negative interests.

TJRC came at a critical time. Kenya was bleeding and hurting. The 2007/8 crisis was an explosion of pent-up anger accumulated for ills meted upon citizens since the colonial days. Most of the transgressions have never been addressed.

The combination of international (UN, EU and AU) and overwhelming local support was sufficient for the Commission to deliver and provide Kenyans with lasting solutions to the many sticking issues and puzzles that always hold the country back.

All these hopes, support, goodwill and work now seem to have been compromised badly, following release of a report that has raised more questions and doubts than answers.

Though I am one of those protesting, I am neither culpable nor guilty. I am only defending the truth. I do not want to defend anybody else without details of any misrepresentation in the report. Neither am I anybody’s advocate.

I am a God fearing, law abiding adult citizen of this country. I strongly support the rule of law and believe like many other good Kenyans that there is great need to review our history as a country with a view to correcting past mistakes, addressing key grievances and reconciling our people. This is the sure way to heal the country and face the future united and secure. I strongly supported formation of the TJRC.

What makes me give some of those protesting the benefit of doubt is the white lies, contained in the final report, claiming that I participated in instigating clashes along the Gusii/Maasai border in the lead-up to the 1992 elections.

This is a criminal lie and reckless misrepresentation of facts which makes the report vulnerable to outright dismissal since it then is possible many other innocent people have been similarly misreported and maligned.

Worse still, such thoughtless handling of a critical investigation is a heartless betrayal of a people in deep need of solutions to painful experiences whose negative consequences still hurt and erode the national fabric and conscience.

My case is a clear dereliction of duty and travesty of justice. Besides, it openly reveals laziness and that reduced junior officials into gullible conveyors of rumour, lies and resorted to “cut and paste” faulty submissions from past probes.

My name was first adversely mentioned in the Kiliku Committee report that investigated the 1991/1992 clashes along the Gucha/Trans Mara border between my Abagusii community and their Maasai neighbours. The Committee was formed by Parliament. It was chaired by the late Kennedy Kiliku who was then MP for Changamwe Constituency.

Manufacture of arrows

It was detailed to address growing hostilities between communities in several parts of the country, including the Abagusii–Maasai problem which had reported cross-border raids, killings, theft of livestock and destruction to property.

When they took views from the public, and despite being the then sitting MP for part of the affected area, the committee failed to invite me to their hearings. No speakers mentioned me adversely.

To my surprise my name propped up in the final report. Neither the Kiliku Committee nor their Secretariat could produce the names of my accusers plus the written details of their allegations linking me to the atrocities. They only put it that I was accused of supplying nails used for the manufacture of arrows that were the weapons of the bloodletting.

The committee had acted against rules of natural justice by recklessly denying me the opportunity to defend myself. The mentioning of my name negatively adversely affected my standing in society and obviously contributed to my failure to recapture my Bobasi parliamentary seat in the 1992 General Elections.

My only logical recourse then was to participate in the rejection of the report when it was tabled in Parliament for adoption. It had implicated me wrongly, without foundation and with malice. 

Five years later in the 1997 elections the country experienced similar tribal clashes. This prompted Government to appoint a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in 1998 headed by Judge (rtd) Akilano Akiwumi.

On my own initiative, I appeared before the Akiwumi Commission sitting in Nakuru seeking to be cleared of any wrongdoing as alleged in the Kiliku report. The commission cleared my name.

How many other Kenyans out there could be innocent victims of this historic shoddy work like me?

Kenyans deserve better. Such carelessness in handling very weighty national tasks is in itself injustice. I am disappointed and disturbed about this retrogressive action by the TJRC. In the TJRC final product, we feel cheated. 

The writer is a former Cabinet Minister and current Kisii County Senator.

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