Doctor-cum-activist who is keen to check on government excesses

Surgeon and activist Dr Magare Gikenyi. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A Nakuru-based surgeon fond of challenging various government directives has revealed most of his suits are drafted and filed in the middle of the night. 

Dr Magare Gikenyi, a consultant trauma and general surgeon and human rights activist, told The Standard he attends to his patients during the day and uses his free time to check on government excesses. 

Gikenyi said he is keen and follows up on the issues happening throughout the day and in the evening sits down to draft petitions in instances where he feels the law has been breached. 

He said he involves himself in public litigation to check on the government’s excesses. 

In one of the corners of his house, Gikenyi has set up a working station with a computer and a small music system. When he sits there, everyone in the home knows it is not business as usual. 

“I start drafting my petition mostly at around 7pm and finish around 1am, file online, thanks to the Judiciary e-filing system,” he said. 

In an interview with The Standard that addressed his passion for the rule of law, he said once a petition is filed, he lets the matter follow its due course.

His schedule

The cases he file, he said, do not interfere with his work, noting on many occasions, he has been forced to leave his home to attend to emergencies at night. 

Being a senior doctor and a consultant general surgeon, Gikenyi also teaches junior doctors. Initially, he worked at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital but has since been transferred to Gilgil Hospital. 

Gikenyi said his patients come first, but his conscience has never allowed him to sit down and watch people trample on the law.

“I always say you might not change the world, but you can do a small thing wherever and whenever you can that will make the world a better place,” he said.

He has filed several cases, with the recent one challenging the Government’s directive to have school fees paid through the online platform, eCitizen. 

Gikenyi said in 2017, while pursuing his Masters degree at Moi University, he was suspended after he disagreed with a colleague. Aggrieved, he moved to court and sued the university, claiming he was not given a hearing. 

Gikenyi, while pursuing his Masters, was attached to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). There he differed with a visiting American doctor as they argued over who was prominent between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the time the US was heading to elections. Gikenyi was an ardent supporter of Trump while the visiting doctor supported Clinton. 

Gikenyi said the doctor, who was his supervisor, wrote to the university management complaining, among other things, that he (Gikenyi) was not a good person and should be suspended.

He sought redress and the court issued orders directing the university not to suspend him. 

Later, he said a colleague passed on and he wanted to attend the funeral. 

“I approached the doctor and told her I was supposed to cover the hospital, but I had looked for someone to cover for me as I wanted to attend the funeral. She agreed but later realised the doctor had written a letter to the head of the department complaining that she thought I was not a good doctor, having left the hospital. The department wrote a letter to the dean and I was suspended,” he said. 

MTRH also wrote him a letter suspending him. In the letter, he said, he was directed not to attend to any of the patients. The letter, he said, was written in February 2018.

“I had to file another case against MTRH. I also got an injunction, and managed to finish my studies and graduated in 2019,” he said. 

He said the County Government of Nakuru in the year 2018 suspended his salary on claims he had overstayed at the university. 

Gikenyi said he realised his salary had been suspended while in a supermarket with his wife and children when he tried paying using his Visa Card in November 2018.

While at the supermarket, they swapped “and I was told I had no money, forcing me to leave all the items there since I had no money. 

“My children started crying and the items they had picked were returned,” he said. 

He said he had to move to court on March 22, 2019, and sued the county government, and the court ordered he be paid all his dues. 

“It is then that I realised one has to fight for his rights. Nobody will assist you except yourself. And that is when I told myself I will always assist myself to ensure justice is done where I consider it has not been done,” he said.

Pursue law

Many people, he said, have asked him to pursue law, and he is still thinking about it.

Though winning a case makes him happy, Gikenyi said losing also provides him with a chance to learn as the courts explain why his case couldn’t be considered. 

Gikenyi said he is not a gun for hire and has on numerous occasions been approached to drop some of the cases in exchange for a token but has maintained his stand.

“I have never withdrawn any of the cases I filed in court. Some people come and plead with me to withdraw the petition, but I always say the reason which took me to court remains,” he said.

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