What you need to know:
- Despite multiple court orders explicitly directing the police to enforce the return of Nakuru War Memorial hospital to its owners, the police chief seems to be operating in defiance of the judicial system.
- On February 1, facing the possibility of contempt charges, the police chief finally yielded to pressure to enforce court orders to restore the management of the War Memorial Hospital.
- Both the hospital management and the Nakuru County Government lay claim to the valuable 25-acre property after the expiry of a 99-year lease.
The ownership row surrounding the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital has not only exposed a clash between its management and the county government but also shone a spotlight on the actions of county police commander Samuel Ndanyi.
Caught in the legal crossfire is Mr Ndanyi for his office’s repeated defiance of court orders which has left the public perplexed, and raised concerns over potential abuse of power.
Four court orders have been issued in the same number of months instructing the police to ensure the hospital was reverted to its rightful owners until the matter is determined.
Recognising the urgency and sensitivity of the case, the judiciary sought to maintain the status quo and prevent any disruptions to the health facility’s operations.
At the centre of this legal storm stands Mr Ndanyi, whose actions raised eyebrows and fuelled speculation about possible ulterior motives in the matter in which both the hospital management and the Nakuru County Government lay claim to the valuable 25-acre property after the expiry of a 99-year lease.
Despite multiple court orders explicitly directing the police to enforce the return of the hospital to its owners, the police chief seems to be operating in defiance of the judicial system.
The different orders issued by the court on diverse occasions but relating to the same matter have been deemed disobeyed.
Environment and Lands Court judge Milicent Odeny who was handling the case when the county government first forcefully took over the management of the hospital issued the first order on October 31 reversing the county government’s action.
The order was ignored.
She issued fresh orders on November 2, 2023 directing Nakuru East Sub County Police Commander Martin Masika to assist the private management to access it for treatment.
The same was disobeyed after the hospital was reopened only for the county to forcibly overrun it 10 days later.
The decision by the county to disobey orders requiring it to remove its enforcement team from the hospital prompted the court to order Mr Ndanyi to facilitate the hospital management to regain control.
The same was brushed aside.
Another order by the same judge on January 23, was ignored before she summoned Mr Ndanyi to present himself before the court on February 1, and explain why he was unable to implement the orders.
The courtroom transformed into a battleground, with the hospital’s legal team presenting a compelling case against the police chief’s actions. Hospital lawyers Kahiga Waitindi and Kamau Chomba told the courts the county government was still in control of the facility and denied the staff access. They said Mr Ndanyi was adequately served with the orders in accordance with the law.
“I want to confirm that the county police commander was served with the orders accordingly. We served him electronically and also pined the orders at the entrance of the Central Police Station,” said Mr Waitindi.
On February 1, facing the possibility of contempt charges, the police chief finally yielded to pressure to enforce court orders to restore the management of the War Memorial Hospital.
He made his way to the hospital to personally supervise the opening of the entrance to the hospital which was forcibly taken over by the county three weeks ago. Earlier in the day he had appeared in court in civilian clothing to explain the difficulties he was facing in complying with the orders.
His appearance followed Justice Obwayo’s ruling to comply with the orders by noon warning him of dire consequences for disregarding orders.
“The county police commander is hereby directed to comply with court orders before 12 midday failure to which he will be cited for contempt,” ruled Justice Ombwayo.
Mr Ndanyi appeared at 1pm to enforce the orders in police uniform but barely had he left than armed goons raided the hospital and vandalised it.
“Court orders override government procedures. Senior public officers must obey court orders and uphold the rule of law. When the government fails to observe law may lead to anarchy,” ruled justice Ombwayo who has since recused himself from the matter.
Mr Ndanyi told the court that the police could not disperse the goons using teargas or bullets because the hospital is located near the Nakuru Statehouse, a public hospital and a school.
Justice Ombwayo, however, rubbished the claims arguing that the police cannot be overpowered by the rowdy youth.
Despite these legal interventions, the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital remains embroiled in a complex legal battle, with questions lingering about the role of the police and the extent to which court orders can be enforced.
The ongoing saga has also underscored the delicate balance between the rule of law and the potential misuse of power