Okiya Omtatah: From Defending Kenyans, Education, Losing Daughter And Being Elected Busia Senator

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Okiya Omtatah: From Defending Kenyans, Education, Losing Daughter And Being Elected Busia Senator
Photocredit/Courtesy

By Prudence Minayo

For a decade plus, Okiya Omtatah has been a familiar face in the corridors of justice. A section of Kenyans thought he was a lawyer or had some sort of legal training, which isn’t the case. The vocal activist has used the courts to put the government of the day in check and ensuring the rights of Kenyans are not trampled upon. His quest for justice has been met with resistance and this came to the fore when he was attacked by unknown assailants in 2013. He sustained cuts on his head and lost four teeth as his attackers mentioned the BVR kits he was opposed to. 

He is among the people who have filed a petition challenging the presidential results that saw Dr. William Ruto announced the president elect by the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. He says none of the top contenders garnered 50 per cent plus one vote as required by the Constitution. 

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Here is the profile of Busia senator elect as told by WoK.

Education 

Born in Teso South, Omtatah passed the chance to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Nairobi. Instead, he did Philosophy and Theology at St. Agustine Philosophical School in Mabanga. 

For Secondary School, he attended St. Paul’s Secondary followed by St. Peter’s School, Mukumu.

Career 

His dream of becoming a priest came to a halt after he sustained a brain injury forcing him to pursue other ambitions. 

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The activist cum politician is a poet and playwright with several works to his name. Some of his popular works include: 

  • Lwanda Magere 
  • Chains of Junkdom 
  • Voice of the People 
  • An Exchange for Honor 

Major Petitions 

He defended a case that prevented the government from snooping into people’s private phone calls.

Omtatah fought the government from implementing the 16% fuel tax forcing it to reduce it to 8%.

Okiya Omtatah: From Defending Kenyans, Education, Losing Daughter And Being Elected Busia Senator
Activist Okiya Omtatah at his home in Kwangomor, Teso South Photocredit/TheStandard

The activist also got orders which prevented Members of Parliament from earning Sh700 million in backdated house allowance. He also won a case ending a long standing court battle to recover more than 800 acres of public land in Busia. 

In 2020, he filed a case against the Ministry of Health. He wanted to know whether it was right for the government to force travellers to cater for their own quarantine costs. He won the case with the court saying it was against the law for the government to force people to undergo quarantine without a court order. 

When people wondered where he got money to fund petitions, he said he gets it from his trucking business and the sale of his books. He also has friends who believe in him and are not afraid to invest their hard earned money on him. 

Politics 

In the recently concluded general elections, he trounced his competitors to be elected the senator of Busia county under the little known National Reconciliation Alliance (NRA) party. 

“Thank you Busia. I am deeply humbled by your immense support and overwhelming show of confidence. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am ready and excited to work for you. Thank you for this tremendous honor,” Omtatah posted following his win. 

He had previously vied for the seat under the Ford Kenya ticket but lost to Amos Wako. He says that this win does not mean he will stop filing petitions and being a voice for the people. 

Family 

Okiya Omtatah is married with four children but lost a daughter in 2020. 

In April 2020, he lost his 21-year-old daughter, Maryanne Marisyanna Omtatah, to Malaria. She was a student at Riara University and was diagnosed with acute malaria forcing her to be taken to the Intensive Care Unit. 

“Just wanted to let you know that my 21-year-old girl who was in her third year at the University went with the angels to the Lord yesterday at 10 pm,” he said. “Words cannot explain the pain and sorrow of losing my daughter earlier today. It hurts to lose a daughter who is so young.”

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