The State is treating Migori Governor Okoth Obado as the first accused in the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno after reviewing a series of leads and confessions of suspects in custody linking him to the crime.
Detectives investigating the gruesome murder of the 26-year-old student told the Nation in confidence that statements from three of the suspects that alleged the governor’s involvement will be part of the evidence presented in court.
A driver who is believed to have been at the scene of crime is said to have provided a key missing link.
It was after piecing together the different pieces of evidence that the investigators asked that the governor appears to provide a further statement at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations’ headquarters in Nairobi, having recorded his version of events in Kisumu last week.
“There were discrepancies in his earlier statement. That was why we wanted to talk to him again (on Friday), but by Thursday we had collected enough evidence to sustain a case,” our source said.
On Friday night, the DCI announced that Mr Obado had been arrested and taken to Gigiri Police Station.
Police and prosecutors are expected to present him in court on Monday.
Investigators also plan to use elaborate mobile phone data — including phone calls, messages and location — of the suspects to prove movement and motive.
The governor, our source said, was in constant communication with key suspects, most of whom were close to him.
An analysis of his phone records and a range of forensic tests further convinced investigators that the high-profile suspect should be locked up despite protests from his lawyer Cliff Ombeta.
“Was he in Nairobi or in Homa Bay County on the night of the murder?” the investigator, who said the call logs indicated contradictions, asked.
The findings were corroborated by statements obtained from three of the persons, including two suspects already in police custody, and another one whom detectives are treating as a key witness in the murder case.
But Mr Obado has distanced himself from the murder, though admitting that he was in a love affair with the pregnant student.
Results of a DNA test conducted also conclusively established that Mr Obado was the father of Ms Otieno’s unborn baby.
“We will treat him as the main suspect in the case because [the] evidence we have so far gathered links him directly to the incident,” a source close to the investigating team said in reference to Mr Obado.
Some of those in custody are said to have accepted to cooperate with the prosecutors in return for lenient sentences.
Mr Obado spent the second night at the Gigiri Police Station in Nairobi on Saturday after he was locked up on Friday.
Mr Obado’s lawyer Ombeta refuted reports on social media that the governor had been taken ill at the police station on Friday night and rushed to hospital.
“All those rumours that he fell sick and was taken to hospital are not true. They are all lies. He is fine and in custody. I have talked to him on phone and he is fine,” Mr Ombeta told Nation.
Besides Mr Obado, others in custody include his personal assistant Michael Oyamo, who was the first to be arrested after Nation journalist Barack Oduor directly linked him to the abduction and murder of Ms Otieno.
Mr Oduor told police that it was Mr Oyamo who lured him and Ms Otieno into a hotel in Rongo, Migori County, on the fateful evening before leading them into a Toyota Fielder, which was carrying the suspected killers.
The second man to be arrested in connection with the murder is former Kanyadoto MCA Lawrence Mula, who is said to have introduced Mr Oduor to Ms Otieno.
Also in custody is another close aide of Mr Obado’s, Caspal Obiero, a clerk with the Migori County government.
Mr Obiero was arrested after his wife, Olivia Oloo, recorded a statement with the police last Sunday stating that he had the Toyota Fielder on the night of the murder.
Mr Obado’s personal bodyguard, Eliud Okoth Omondi, is also in custody, having been arrested after he accompanied Mr Obiero to the Migori Police Station to record a statement.
Mr Jack Gombe, a taxi driver, is also in custody after it was established that he was the one driving the Toyota Fielder on the night of the murder.
The detectives revealed that they are treating Mr Oduor and Mr Gombe as witnesses in the murder.
Mr Oduor risked his life by jumping out of the vehicle after he and Ms Otieno were abducted from the Graca Hotel in Rongo Town, and reported the incident at the Kadel Police Station near Kendu Bay township in Homa Bay. He is currently under witness protection.
“Investigations show that the suspect (Gombe) neither knew of, plotted nor executed the plot; he was just a victim of circumstances even if he was known to the main suspects by virtue of taxi business,” the source said.
Following the investigations, the detectives are likely to charge Mr Obado, Mr Oyamo, Mr Omondi, Mr Obiero and Mr Mula for plotting and executing or financing the murder of the university student.
One of the clauses likely to be used reads; “Every person who aids or abets another person in committing the offence; (d) any person who counsels or procures any other person to commit the offence, and in the last-mentioned case he may be charged either with committing the offence or with counselling or procuring its commission.”
Nation also learnt that the State plans to ask that Mr Obado remains in custody to avoid interfering with investigations.
Meanwhile, details of how the head of DCI George Kinoti presided over the delicate operations can also be revealed.
It emerged that Mr Kinoti, aware that there was always a lingering possibility of the investigations being bungled, formed four independent units comprising of elite police officers that had little or no knowledge of the parallel investigations.
Police in Migori and Homa Bay counties were largely kept in the dark as the teams from Nairobi took over.
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.