Migori MCAs have kicked off moves towards impeaching embattled governor Okoth Obado, who was charged with Sharon’s murder in Nairobi on Monday.
By 6pm yesterday 23 of the 60 members of the county assembly had signed the petition to remove Obado on grounds of integrity.
They say he has disgraced himself and his position has become untenable.
But the assembly Majority leader defended the governor and told off those scheming to impeach him.
“We are aware of those plans but nothing has been presented to the assembly yet. When they do we will deal with it then,” Lawrence Onyago told the Star yesterday.
Obado was arrested last Friday after recording statements in Kisumu and Nairobi. He has been accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend, Sharon Otieno, between September 3-4.
He denied the charged before High Court judge Jessie Lessit on Monday and was remanded at Industrial Area remand prison until the court rules on his bail application on Thursday.
Besides the murder accusations, Obado and his close allies are under investigation by the EACC for alleged money laundering in which millions of shillings from the Migori country have been paid out to a ring of connected companies in dubious contracts.
Some of the bank accounts of the suspect companies, including those held by his wife Helen, have been frozen after the EACC obtained court orders.
The anti- graft agency is tracing the trail of multi-million transactions that include overseas accounts.
Separately, a Nairobi-based NGO yesterday petitioned the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to initiate Obado’s removal from office for failing the integrity requirements in the Constitution.
International Center for Policy and Conflict director Ndung’u Wainaina said EACC should file a constitutional petition at the Supreme Court to seek Obado’s removal for breach of integrity if he does not resign.
In a letter copied to DPP, AG and IEBC yesterday, Wainaina said Obado cannot discharge his duties in the manner contemplated by the Constitution and the principles of public service.
“Obado lacks in character and integrity demonstrated by various incidents which are matters of public knowledge,” the petition reads.
Wainaina said the petition seeks to enforce transparency in the electoral process and foster accountability.
“The conduct of state officers in private and public is very central in determining whether they have required integrity and suitability to hold public office,” he said.
“How the commission will address suitability of Obado to remain in office is the acid test and tipping point in executing its mandate.”
Wainaina drew comparisons with the case of former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza who resigned in 2012 after a judicial tribunal was set up to determine her suitability for pinching a guard on the nose at Village Market.
The tribunal, he said, set a precedent in the application of Chapter Six by separating personal integrity from criminal liability of public office holders.
“The tribunal made a distinction between presumption of innocence as articulated in the administration of criminal justice and integrity standards expected of public/state officers.
“The tribunal clearly stated that unethical conduct or lack of integrity by state officers only required accurate proof and material facts,” he said.
Obado will remain at Industrial Area prison until Thursday afternoon when the court will rule on his bail application. His lawyer, Cliff Ombeta, argued that murder like all other offences is bailable under the law.
Obado is the first suspect to be charged in connection with Sharon’s murder. His personal assistants, Micheal Juma Oyamo and Caspal Obiero, are expected to be charged today.
On Monday, DPP Noordin Haji directed the DCI to pursue and arrest the hitmen who executed Sharon.
The DPP said investigations so far have revealed that the crime was executed by the governor’s acquaintances to avoid a political backlash.
There is a likelihood that Obado may face a second count of murder for causing the death of the unborn child. The deceased Sharon Belyne Otieno was seven months pregnant with a male child when she was killed.
Senior Assistant Public Prosecutor Alexander Muteti told Justice Lessit that the life of a human being begins at conception. He cited Article 26 of the Constitution which provides for the right to life.
In an affidavit filed in court, the prosecution said the unborn child was killed by penetrating stab wounds from Sharon’s back to the stomach.
The post mortem which was conducted at Rachuonyo Level 4 hospital also reveal that Sharon’s intestines were hanging after she was stabbed on the neck, back and abdomen.
“From the injuries occasioned to the deceased mother and unborn child there was deliberate malicious intention to cause the death of both mother and child,” reads part of the affidavit.
Obado’s defence team that includes former judge Nicholas Ombija, Evans Ondieki, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana yesterday argued that although the allegations are grave they cannot be used to deny him his fundamental rights and freedom.
“My client shall abide by all conditions that shall be set by the court as a prerequisite for being granted bail. He shall not interfere with witnesses in this matter or investigations should any be carried out,” he said on behalf of Obado.
In a brief rejoinder, Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Jacob Ondari opposed Obado’s release saying the victim’s family is under threats and intimidation which are believed to be perpetrated by Obado through his accomplices.
“Release of the accused person on bail pending the hearing and determination of the trial is not absolute and is at the discretion of this court,” he said.
Ondari said investigations are incomplete and they will be proceeding back to Migori to interrogate close family members and county employees.
“Obado has a lot of influence in Migori by virtue of the his position as governor and there is a likelihood of interfering with the ongoing investigations,” said Ondari.
Initially, regarded as a person of interest Obado has since become the centre of the investigations.
The DPP has since established that a motor vehicle KCL 481K, Toyota Fielder dark grey in color was used in kidnapping Sharon and Nation Group journalist Barrack Oduor.
According to the Sate, Sharon was lured to Migori area where she was abducted and driven to the scene of murder at Owande area in Karachuonyo South where her body was found in a thicket on September 4.
The vehicle was intercepted on 16 September within Migori town and the driver, Jackson Otieno Gombe, arrested.
Gombe has since recorded a confession which the prosecution said it intends to use in the trial. The defense has opposed it, claiming it has been doctored.
“In view of the intricate relationship between Obado and in view of the confessions recorded by same suspects to wit Jackson Gombe, it is extremely dangerous to release the accused person on bail for he remains a serious danger to society and the witnesses that may appear and testify in the case,” said Ondari.
He told the court that the investigations are complex and involve multiple suspects covering a wide range of issues and suspects spread over a wide area.
“We have in our possession sufficient evidence which links the accused person and his accomplices to the commission of the heinous crime,” said Ondari.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.