Lawyers march to Kihika's office over War Memorial Hospital saga

Nakuru lawyers hold a protest demanding the reopening of War Memorial Hospital. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Lawyers on Thursday marched to Nakuru county government offices to demand the reopening of War Memorial Hospital.

Led by Rift Valley Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Chairperson Aston Muchela, the lawyers presented their petition to the county offices. It was received by the County Secretary Samuel Mwaura.

Dr Mwaura declined to comment on the matter saying the case was in court. He, however, denied claims that the county government had taken control of the hospital.

The peaceful demos were temporarily interrupted by rowdy youths who pelted stones at the lawyers before they (youths) were dispersed by police. 

In the petition, the LSK demands the immediate restoration of the hospital’s private management in compliance with court orders issued on January 23, 25, 30, and February 1 and 9, 2024.

“The restoration should occur until the court orders otherwise,” reads the petition.

LSK also wants Governor Susan Kihika to unconditionally apologize to the families of victims and patients who suffered at the hands of county askaris.

The county raided the hospital on January 23 at around 3 am, chased away staff, and forcefully transferred patients from the hospital.

“The governor should make a public affirmation that she will respect the rule of law,” read the petition.

Muchela called on Nakuru residents, the civil society, and other bodies to speak out when such ills are happening.

If Kihika fails to act as demanded, the society has threatened to sue the county government for violation of human rights.

“We shall be instituting legal proceedings against the county government should our demands go unheeded. We shall also make noise until we are heard,” read the petition.

Muchela said LSK has followed the War Memorial saga since October last year when the county government first raided the facility.

He noted that the case had been mentioned several times in court, orders were issued against the county and Nakuru County Police Commander Samuel Ndanyi.

“Unfortunately, the county government has refused to obey the orders and instead overseen a forceful takeover in the process crippling its operations and violating patients’ rights,” read the petition.

The petition notes that county enforcement officers were seen disabling dialysis machines that were being used by a patient.

LSK says some patients were abandoned in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while others lost their lives.

“We take great exception to the impunity overseen by your government. It pains us because we thought you would be a champion for the rule of law since you are a qualified lawyer,” LSK submitted.

The society expressed concern that Kihika’s regime is trampling against constitutionalism despite taking an oath to do justice and respect by the Constitution.

“Are you doing justice when your government refuses to obey court orders, when county askaris are pulling people from life support machines, or when your people cannot access medical and health facilities because of the shutdown?” Posed the lawyers.

They warned Kihika that the rule of law will be charged directly to her when history is written and the people of Nakuru will remember that she was in charge when the county's health was crippled.

LSK Vice President Faith Odhiambo condemned the government for disregarding the Constitution.

“We converge here to protect Kenyans as the Judiciary appears to be increasingly compromised,” said Ms Odhiambo.

She said the society warned President William Ruto to desist from his reckless, distasteful comments about the Judiciary and threats to disobey judgements against his government.

“Two judges have recused themselves from the case, abandoning their constitutional duty,” she said.

Odhiambo declared that the society will not settle for mere disillusionment with the unfortunate happenings and vowed to take action.