Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria, who is accused of assaulting a police officer during a scuffle on Saturday, is perhaps, the second most vocal and abrasive politician in the region after Kimani Ngunjiri.
Mr Gikaria, popularly known as Team Manager (TM), is never shy to tackle head-on thorny issues in his Nakuru County backyard.
The former Nakuru town mayor is a legislator with a penchant for “people riots” and no stranger to controversy.
On Monday, he appeared before a Naivasha court but did not plead to assault charges after he was informed that plea taking had been deferred to Monday next week, a move he bitterly protested.
Addressing journalists later outside the court, he accused police officers of torturing him and denying him medical attention moments before his arrest on Saturday.
“The police officers from Bondeni Police Station were on a mission to maim or kill me. I was beaten and subjected to inhumane conditions,” said Mr Gikaria.
According to the police, Mr Gikaria will be charged with assault, incitement, resisting arrest and causing disturbance at a police station.
Mr Gikaria was arrested on Saturday at Pipeline in Nakuru town following fracas on land grabbing allegations.
Born about 56 years ago, Mr Gikaria is aggressive, practical and his face cuts the image of a no-nonsense guy, one always ready to tackle things bare knuckled.
He earned the name TM out of his love for football and support for local football clubs.
NAKURU'S BAB YAO
Since the advent of devolution, the MP has earned himself the tag of Nakuru’s “Baba Yao” due to his practical manner of solving issues.
He is always ready to defend residents, even using his fists.
Interestingly, the MP is a darling of the youth and women in Nakuru Town, who believe he is their defender whenever they have issues with the county or national governments.
“TM ni baba yetu, tunampenda kwa sababu anatupigania na kuhakikisha anasaidia biashara ndogo ndogo kukua… (TM is our father, we love him because he fights for us and is always ready to support small scale businesses in Nakuru),” said Mr Daniel Karanja, a hawker.
However, there are those who feel Nakuru Town East has lagged behind in terms of development compared to the neighbouring Nakuru Town West Constituency.
“A visitor in the town can clearly see the difference between Nakuru Town West and Nakuru Town East. Our neighbour has good roads and proper drainage systems but in Nakuru Town East we are still suffering due to bad leadership,” said Ms Sarah Wanjiru.
While attending public events, Mr Gikaria normally arrives surrounded by huge crowds of young people.
When he is in Nakuru town, it is not easy to trace him because he interacts and mixes freely with wananchi, sometimes donning shorts and open shoes.
From opposing the relocation of hawkers from Nakuru town’s CBD in 2015, the MP has been caught up in numerous chaotic incidents.
Mr Gikaria, who studied at Nakuru’s Menengai High School, cut his teeth in politics in the early 2000s.
He served as a councillor and mayor of Nakuru town, before he won the Nakuru Town East parliamentary seat on a TNA ticket in the 2013 General Elections.
The Saturday fracas which led to his most recent arrest was in connection with a land row between him and a former Nakuru mayor, Mr Mohammed Surraw.
Interestingly, the MP has been engaged in more than two scuffles involving land with Mr Surraw since the days of the defunct Nakuru Municipal Council.
The MP spent the better part of Saturday evening in police custody at the Nakuru Railways Police Station.
He was accompanied by a group of youth who stormed the area to oversee the construction of stalls on the land said to have been grabbed, which is situated along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.
However, the MP and ten others were arrested.
Deputy County Police Commander Kirinya Limbitu claimed that Mr Gikaria slapped a deputy sub-county police commander during the incident, forcing other police officers to intervene, leading to his arrest.
The county commander said they received reports that Mr Gikaria and Nakuru Town East MCA Humphrey Mwaniki were planning to lead the youth in constructing illegal structures on private property.
Mr Limbitu noted that the case on ownership of the land was pending in court.
Police used teargas to disperse the group that had blocked the Nakuru-Nairobi highway using logs and stones.
Mr Gikaria is no stranger to controversy.
In July 2016, he was charged at a Nakuru court with malicious damage to private property valued at Sh13 million.
The MP was charged alongside activist Boniface Mwangi, Naka Primary School headteacher Francis Mwangi, journalist Elijah Kinyanjui and Flamingo Ward MCA Moses Gichangi.
On January 28, 2019, the MP was arrested and taken to court over eight counts of land fraud.
MP Gikaria was apprehended by officers from the Nakuru Directorate of Criminal Investigations and questioned for hours.
He was later brought before Principal Magistrate Bernard Mararo after being driven to court under tight security.
The lawmaker was charged with forging land documents and grabbing parcels of land within Nakuru County between August 28 and December 18, 2007.
The court released him on a personal bond of Sh3 million.
In 2012, Mr Gikaria, then a councillor for Lakeview Ward, was charged with stealing 21 steel electric posts, 23 lanterns and one sign post, all worth Sh893,200.
He was, however, acquitted of stealing the electric posts and road signs in 2014.
In 2015, when President Uhuru Kenyatta declared war on illicit brew, Mr Gikaria led the war in Nakuru town and was later charged with dumping liquor bottles and boxes at the KFA and Mburu Gichua roundabouts in Nakuru town.
During Governor Kinuthia Mbugua’s regime, he was at loggerheads with the county administration for months over the relocation of hawkers from the CBD.
TM opposed the relocation and this led to his involvement in a scuffle with the police and county officials as he led hawkers in resisting relocation.
Several county enforcement officers were injured in the scuffle.
Consequently, during that year’s Madaraka Day celebrations at the Afraha Stadium, Mr Gikaria decided to keep off from the dais that is usually reserved for dignitaries and instead chose on the terrace with wananchi.