Quickly probe attacks against Omtatah and protect him, his family

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah’s rural home came under attack on Wednesday last week from unknown people, leaving one of his relatives injured. The latest development adds to many other attempts to harm him, the worst being in 2012 when he was brutally assaulted along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi, and lost some teeth in the harrowing experience.

Last month, the senator was attacked by goons while on his way home from the Busia Law Courts where he had turned up for a case in which he has sued the Busia County Government in his efforts to get some documents from the county, which he says will help him execute his oversight role in protecting and defending public property and rights. 

Omtatah is a household name in Kenya. Over the years, he has cut a niche for himself as a defender of the common man’s rights, often going to court to defend public rights whenever he feels they are threatened, either by individuals or the government. As a private litigator, Omtatah has won many cases to the delight of the public.

Needless to say, although he is a hero in the eyes of the public, Omtatah has earned himself enemies; people who feel threatened by his valiant efforts to stem the tide of corruption within and without government.

In July last year, unknown people broke into his office in Busia and made away with computers and other electronics. In addition, Omtatah has alleged threats to his life on several occasions.

Direct threat

In December last year, the senator accused the President of issuing death threats against him and others opposed to the Housing Levy.

This was after the President said: "You know I was given a sword. Do you think it's for cutting vegetables? It's for dealing with all these crooks here. I will uproot them completely, and Kenya will move forward."

Omtatah interpreted this as a direct threat to those opposed to the President's policies, including the Housing Levy, but his attempt to report the alleged threat was thwarted by police officers at Mosocho Police Station in Kisii County.

As such, it goes without saying that if anything happens to Omtatah, the government will, inevitably, be among the key suspects.

It is therefore in the interest of the government to protect the senator from harm by all means. And not only that. Police must conduct thorough investigations and arrest those who were behind the night raid and other attacks on the senator and his property.

It is noteworthy that the senator is a man with rare positive attributes in a country where corruption is the order of the day.

He reminds one of the 'The Man'—the only character of integrity in Ayi Kwei Armah's novel The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Kenya needs Omtatah. He represents the hope that a corruption-free Kenya is possible. The senator and his family must be protected.