How many barristers can YOU spot? Brian Mwenda Njagi, Brian Mwenda Ntwiga, and Brian N Mwenda.
A man in Kenya who pretended to be a barrister has been arrested, prompting an outcry from similarly dodgy people who praised his initiative and entrepreneurial spirit.
Brian Mwenda Njagi skipped the boring bits of law like passing exams and went straight to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), where he claimed he was a barrister called Brian Mwenda Ntwiga who had been admitted to the Bar in August.
Njagi explained that he wanted to pay for his practising certificate but couldn’t because the email address on their system was incorrect.
LSK duly changed it, allowing Njagi to take control of Ntwiga’s profile in September. After amending the profile picture and workplace address he immediately started practising as Brian N Mwenda and, according to local media, took on and won 26 cases in a matter of weeks.
His streak ended when Ntwiga tried to log in to his LSK account and couldn’t, because Njagi had assumed his identity and locked him out.
After the problem was brought to its attention and it realised it had been duped, LSK released a statement branding The Talented Mr Njagi a “criminal” who had committed fraud, declaring that “masqueraders pose a serious threat to the practice of law”.
Njagi was arrested on Wednesday and charged with six offences relating to forgery and identity theft, having presented himself to police.
He pleaded not guilty, bolstered by support from sections of the public and politicians who endorsed Njagi as a gutsy everyman overcoming discriminatory barriers like ‘qualifications’ to achieve true social mobility.
Kenya's Central Organisation of Trade Unions called Njagi a "brilliant young mind" who had succeeded "without traditional qualifications".
Mike Sonko, the former governor of Nairobi who has faced accusations of drug trafficking and money laundering, introduced Njagi as his “future lawyer” in a video with the man.
Sonko called the fake lawyer’s critics "nincompoops" and said that "He's never killed anyone, he's not a terrorist".
Njagi said he was grateful to the people "that are supporting me and praying for me" and that "in the fullness of time I will be able to clear this misunderstanding”.
He's not in the prayers of LSK President Eric Theuri who responded on Twitter that he was going to ensure Njagi "faces the full force of the Law”, and promised that the case would be a deterrent “for future masqueraders”.