Surgeon with a love for law puts the brakes on vetting of PSs

Gikenyi, 38, has since learnt the art of juggling his scalpel with a pen as he represents Kenyans on matters of public interest in the corridors of justice.

He recently filed a suit seeking to stop the vetting and appointment of Principal Secretaries.

The court consolidated Gikenyi's case with one by the Law Society of Kenya and gave conservatory orders stopping the vetting of 51 PSs.

He also sued the governor of Nakuru County and the assembly, challenging the vetting and appointment of executives. The Labour Court in Nakuru on October 19 granted stopped the vetting.

Gikenyi describes himself as a dedicated patient-centred surgeon, a human rights champion and a family man who loves children.

Gikenyi believes in the rule of law.

He comes across as quiet, but that is until you engage him. He is fearless and always ready to take the bull by the horn. He finds pleasure in serving people, his patients, and those who have been wronged.

Gikenyi was born in Mokonge village, Bassi Masige Sub-location in Kisii County, in a polygamous family of 16 children. His father, Mr Thomas Magare was a primary school teacher while his mother Rose Kerubo was a farmer.

"There were lots of challenges when we were growing up, even sleeping on a mattress was a big problem. We suffered a lot and people used to laugh at us while we went to fetch water at a spring. They described us as jigger-infested children," says Gikenyi.

He says he did casual labour during and after school to raise fees.

The Rakiemoni Secondary School alumni says despite his struggles, he got an A in his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam and joined the University of Nairobi in 2002 to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He graduated in 2007.

He has worked in a number of hospitals, including Thika Level Five Hospital (2008), Nakuru Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (2009), Molo Sub-County hospital (2010-2011), and Elburgon Hospital (2011-2013).

In 2013, he went for his Master of Medicine, Mmed (Gen.Surgery) at Moi University which was supposed to take four years. He says his differences with a visiting American doctor saw him suspended.

He says the doctor was not happy as each time they would argue about American politics even while in the theatre.

"She wrote to the university management complaining among other things that I was not a good person. I was suspended without a hearing. I went to court on grounds that I had not been given a hearing. The court agreed with me and I got an injunction," he said.

In the end, the suspension was declared null and void.

Meanwhile, the County Government of Nakuru removed him from the payroll in 2018, having overstayed at the university. "I sued the county government and was paid my dues," he said.

He sued the Ministry of Education over schools closure at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court agreed with him that the ministry's decision was irrational. However, at the time of making the orders, the ministry had said learners would only lose one term.

"That aspect gave me more energy and the more I find one case convincing, the more I get motivated and file more," he said.

He filed a case seeking to have men and women given equal parental leave (three months). The case is still pending in court.

He is also behind the suit that sought to stop Kemsa from sacking its employees. He did not succeed in stopping the sacking.

He also instituted a case last year seeking to compel President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint the six Court of Appeal judges. He also sued against awarding a Sh2 million car grant to MCAs to pass the BBI Bill.

So who drafts his petitions?

He says he drafts them alone having learnt from his brother Dennis Magare while at Moi University.

He says he would read law after his medicine classes. "While at Moi University doing my master's degree, I used to stay with my brother and I would see him draft those petitions. Law is a social science and one rarely gets tired unlike medicine where you have to study how it works," he said.

In law, he notes, one can make a mistake and move to the Court of Appeal to have it rectified.

"Medicine and surgery have no reverse gear. Once you make an error, a patient dies or gets incapacitated.

He says he does not hire a lawyer to represent and or file the case for him but argues the case in person to gain experience and save on costs.

The doctor says he argues most of his cases from the theatre, thanks to technology. In most instances, he attends to his patients early in the morning and sets up for court by 9 AM each time he has a matter.

"I talk from theatre, people think when you get to the theatre everything is blood, no, there is a room for relaxing, normally I go to my private room and request the court that I have surgery and would wish to have my case prioritized.

"Judges are good people and do understand and grant my request," he says.

He said though some people are not happy with what he does, he feels happy when on the right side of the law.

He has turned down financial offers to withdraw case. "In all the cases I have filed, somebody has come, but I always ask myself why did I go to court in the first place? I go to court to fight injustice, so if I do injustice then as a society we have failed, we have failed our generation," he says.