George Odiwuor, Baraka Karama and Dickens Wesonga
Migori Governor Okoth Obado was yesterday subjected to eight hours of intense grilling by police detectives on his relationship with slain Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.
Police also took samples of Obado for DNA analysis during the exercise in which the detectives also sought to know whether the governor was responsible for Sharon’s seven months pregnancy.
Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti said last evening Obado had been released on a police bond on condition that he cooperates with the detectives.
Obado was driven away from the Kisumu Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) offices in a police vehicle under heavy security led by Kisumu Central DCIO Noah Katumo, under circumstances that Kinoti explained were due to “the governor’s safety.”
The governor who had flown from Nairobi to Kisumu to face a team of detectives, spent the better part of yesterday explaining how he knew Sharon and the nature of their relationship. According to police sources, detectives pursuing the case believe that Obado’s relationship with Sharon may have been the reason for her murder. But Obado who was in the company of his lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Christopher Rusana, flatly denied knowledge of the murder and the drama that accompanied the incident.
He is said to have told the detectives that the claims were “strange and political in nature” to him. At one time, he is said to have attempted to connect Sharon’s death to the current political environment in Migori, pitting himself and ODM senatorial aspirant and his political adversary Ochilo Ayacko.
Obado is reported to have indicated that murdering Sharon would have been more in favour of ODM than in his favour at the moment.
The detectives are said to have requested for samples from Obado in order to match the DNA tests they had taken from the feotus. “They have asked for the samples but we are debating. We will see what next, and let it be known my client is not under arrest,” said Ombeta at the end of the session.
DNA sampling is said to be part of police investigations to establish whose unborn child Sharon was carrying, when she was killed after being abducted together with Nation journalist Barrack Oduor in Homa Bay county.
The team of detectives from Homicide Unit also asked Obado to explain when he last talked to Sharon, Oduor and his Personal Assistant Michael Oyamo and what the topic of their conversation was.
Detectives had obtained call logs of the governor and the people he had talked to for the period under investigation. Officers aware of the nature and thrust of the probe said last evening they were not yet through with the governor.
Four prime suspects linked to the murder are still at large. A car that was used in ferrying Sharon to Kodera Forest where her body was found on September 4 is also missing. Police suspect it is in Nairobi or was driven across the border to Tanzania.
Oyamo who was initially expected in court in Homa Bay was freed from police custody before he was re-arrested and driven to Kisumu where he was briefly questioned before being bundled into another car. He insisted he was also a victim of abduction. Oduor too, had been summoned to Kisumu where he was questioned for hours before being led into a separate car parked outside the DCI’s offices.
Officials indicated the prosecution of the case would take place in Nairobi for fear of witness interference, political situation, and tension in Homa Bay and Migori counties and for the suspects’ general safety.
A former Member of County Assembly for Kanyadoto Lawrence Mula was also driven to Nairobi where he is likely to face charges.
The Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji has sent the head of murder division in his office Tom Imbali to guide the investigators in their progress. Imbali is said to be a seasoned prosecutor who has handled a number of high profile murder cases.
The government pathologist Dr Johansen Oduor revealed Sharon was stabbed eight times and died from excessive bleeding. Oduor also confirmed reports from homicide detectives that the unborn baby also had stab wounds.
Earlier, there was confusion at the Homa Bay High Court when Oyamo failed to appear before the judge. The suspect was expected to appear in court at 9am to be charged and to take a plea.
Homa Bay Senior resident magistrate Leister Simiyu on Monday gave an order for the suspect to be charged or be released. But Oyamo was not presented in court as expected which caught many, including lawyers, by surprise.
Members of the press and the family of Sharon waited for about four hours for the suspect to be brought to court in vain with his lawyers accusing the investigators of malice in handling the case.
Homa Bay sub county DCI boss Joseph Tuksho told journalists the suspect would be taken to Nairobi.
The officer said Oyamo was not charged in Homa Bay because of the tension that had built up in the area. An investigative officer reveled to People Daily that Oyamo was released as per the court order but later rearrested.
“The court ordered that the suspect be charged or be released. He was released but later arrested and was taken to Nairobi to be charged a fresh. Sometimes we bend the law for the sake of peace and for the safety of the accused,” said the officer.
But Oyamo’s lawyers said their client was not treated fairly. Speaking at the Homa Bay Police station yesterday, June Ashioya said they ought to have been informed of the changes in the transfer of the case.