Lawyers accuse Okiya Omtatah of 'taking their jobs'

Activist Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • “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?” posed Mr Gikonyo.

The Law Society of Kenya has complained that activist Okiya Omtatah is taking lawyers’ jobs through multiple filing of public interest litigations.

The society’s president Allen Gichuhi said Mr Omtatah is 'doing their work' and is taking more limelight though the cases.

“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,” said Mr Gichuhi.

He said that lawyers have the greatest mandate to initiate these public interest litigations

“He is taking lawyers’ work because more Kenyans tend to trust him because he has become a name in himself,” said Mr Gichuhi.

Speaking in Nyeri town after addressing more than 100 advocates drawn from Nyeri and Nanyuki, Mr Gichuhi, however said the Constitution allows any citizen of Kenya to file a public interest litigation.

He spoke after LSK Nyeri chairman Wahome Gikonyo, protested that Mr Omtatah could be abusing court and that he is more of an advocate.

“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?” posed Mr Gikonyo.

Another lawyer Njuguna Kimani also complained that activists are using Article 258 (1) to dig into the lawyers’ job.

“Activists are busy than lawyers. They are earning more in the name of public interest litigation,” said Mr Kimani.

However, Mr Gichuhi said it is a tricky aspect because on one hand, the government is supposed to ensure it works hand in hand with the arms of Justice in the interest of Kenyans.

“If there is something illegal and comes to the court’s attention, the courts will act accordingly,” said Mr Gichuhi.

FRAUD

While speaking at the same event, Mr Gichuhi defended lawyers caught up in fraud and money laundering scams in the country.

Mr Gichuhi said the lawyers are innocent and that they get duped by clients conducting illegal transactions.

He stated that LSK is working with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to make guidelines that will protect lawyers from getting involved in money laundering.

“We want guidelines to inform lawyers to be on the lookout for clients who may use them on the pretext of purchase of land or any other transaction while it is actually disguised money laundering. Those guidelines will actually assist us in the fight against corruption. They are so many caught up,” said Mr Gichuhi.

He termed as a great concern that some lawyers face possible prosecution over money laundering charges.

“In other jurisdictions like the United Kingdom they have got good guidelines which we would like to borrow here in Kenya and we do not want to be left behind. It is also one of the standards of protecting the profession and members of the public,” said Mr Gichuhi.

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