Migori governor Okoth Obado yesterday became the first person to be charged in connection with the murder of Sharon Otieno as investigators continue to pursue the actual killers said to be on the run.
Other suspects, among them Obado’s personal assistants, Micheal Juma Oyamo Caspal Obiero, are expected to be charged tomorrow.
Obado who was spent the weekend in police custody appeared calm but pensive in the face of accusations of murdering his lover, Sharon.
He denied the charge and immediately his lawyers urged the court to release him on bail on grounds that his family solely depends on him and will suffer if he is detained.
But Justice Jesse Lessit directed that Obado be remanded at the Industrial Area prison and scheduled the bail application for hearing today.
Renown for her strictness in court, the presiding judge of the criminal division of the High Court in Nairobi is a jurist of few words.
Among the prominent cases she has handled include murder case against businessman Kamlesh Pattni and recently the murder case against prison beauty queen Ruth Kamande.
While she freed Pattni for lack of evidence, she sentenced Kamande to death for killing her boyfriend in cold blood.
Obado was accused of murdering Sharon between September 3-4, 2018, in Rachuonyo sub county within Homa Bay county jointly with others not before court.
Obado’s defence lawyers included former judge Nicholas Ombija, Evans Ondieki, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana.
Ombija told Justice Lessit that his client is not a flight risk and will attend court whenever required to do so.
“I shall abide by all conditions that shall be set by the court as a prerequisite for being granted bail. I shall not interfere with witnesses in this matter or investigations should any be carried out,” he said on behalf of his client.
In his affidavit, Obado says he is married to Hellen Obado and they have six school going children who depend on him for all their financial needs.
“The offence of murder like all other offences is bailable under the law. The said allegations however grave cannot deny me my basic fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution,” Obado said.
The prosecution led by Deputy Director Jacob Ondari applied for the case to be mentioned on tomorrow when Obado’s co-accused will be arraigned in court.
Obado was whisked away to the Milimani basement cells at 11.20am as a few supporters who had thronged the courtroom lined to to greet him.
Outside the courts, a group of women chanted and displayed placards written in dholuo “To ngama Okoth Ka chode to Iywago Nang’o?” meaning “Mtu amekufia kwa umalaya unamlilia nini?” (why mourn someone who has died through prostitution).
Others chanted, “Release our Governor, Free Obado!”
One Florence Achieng was captured offering her apologies to the governor.
“Obado is the most honest person we know and if it is about committing adultery every African man has done it. If he had an ill-motive in the case, the pregnancy would have been terminated,” she offered.
Sharon’s mother on the other hand left the court quietly looking frail and lost in her thoughts.
In a statement issued in the morning before the trial, the DPP said persons featuring prominently in the murder were either employees of the county government or close acquaintances of the governor assigned to handle the matter carefully to avoid public ridicule and political backlash.
“Sharon and her unborn baby lost their lives in a gruesome and horrifying manner in the hands of her killers. My office is therefore committed to ensuring that all the perpetrators of the heinous act are brought to book and subjected to the due process of the law,” read part of the statement.
The DPP said they were able to establish that motor vehicle KCL 481 K, Toyota Fielder dark grey in color, was used in the alleged kidnapping of Sharon and Nation Group journalist Barrack Oduor.
Sharon’s body was later found on September 4 in a thicket near Oyugis town.
The vehicle was intercepted on 16 September within Migori town and its driver, Jackson Otieno Gombe, arrested.
When Gombe was questioned, it emerged that the vehicle operates as a taxi within Migori county and is registered in the name of Olivia Oloo Adhiambo, an employee of the Migori county government.
Olivia is married to Caspal Ojwang Obiero who also works at the county as PA to the governor.
“The car track system in the vehicle was deactivated on September 3 –the date of the incident and reactivated the following day. This clearly was a well calculated move by the killers to conceal the movement of the vehicle in question,” the DPP said.
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.