He is famed for being at the forefront of Public Interest litigation and to Wananchi, he is a hero. He has become a common figure in the corridors of courts even though unknown to many he is not a lawyer and has never been to law school.
To the government Okiya Omtatah has perhaps been a thorn in the flesh going by the numerous cases he has filed challenging some decisions and now the latest reproach to the human rights activist is coming from some unlikely sources; lawyers in the country.
Some lawyers are crying foul and saying activist Okiya Omtatah is stealing their jobs when he is not an advocate in the first place.
“He is more of an advocate. Why do I need to be a lawyer if anyone else can represent people in court and he is a layman?” LSK Nyeri chairman Wahome Gikonyo said in protest.
The constitution allows for any citizen of Kenya to file public interest litigation, a provision that lawyers are accusing activists of abusing for their personal gain.
“Activists are busy than lawyers. They are earning more in the name of public interest litigation,” another lawyer said.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Allen Gichuhi is also quoted by the Daily NationNewspaper amplifying the lawyer’s complaints.
“We are concerned that Mr Omtatah is getting a lot of leeway in the courts. He relies on information provided by disgruntled elements in a corporation or in government using confidential and privilege information,” Mr Gichuhi is quoted by the Nation Newspaper.
Some lawyers have however come in Okiya’s defence saying the LSK should honour the activist and not condemn him as he is doing what they have failed to do.
“Okiya Omtatah should be acknowledged with honorary membership of LSK; not criticised and targeted for taking on cases against the government, which LSK as currently constituted at the top cannot touch,” said Advocate Nelson Havi.