A Nation journalist is nursing serious injuries in a Kisumu hospital after his narrow escape from the jaws of kidnappers, in the latest attack targeting media workers in Kenya.
Mr Barrack Oduor, who covers the expansive Homa Bay County, escaped death on Monday night by risking it all: jumping out a moving vehicle at Nyangweso market on Homa Bay-Kisumu road.
Mr Oduor on Tuesday said he took the daring step on feeling that his fate had been sealed after the abductors bundled him into a car with tinted windows and drove off at a high speed.
The reporter and photojournalist had gone to meet a story source in Migori before the plot thickened and turned into a life-saving performance mirroring scripts in action movies.
The source, identified as Michael Oyamo, works by day as Migori Governor Okoth Obado's personal assistant.
He had arranged to meet Mr Oduor with details of an alleged scandal in the company of a woman, only identified as Sharon, also associated with the governor.
Mr Oduor says Mr Oyamo’s request was a “normal call-up” and that he never suspected anything sinister.
"The governor's personal assistant had initially called the lady, Sharon, for us to meet for a tip-off in Rodi Kopany township (in Homa Bay) but changed the venue of the meeting to Rongo town in Migori County," said Mr Oduor.
After waiting for Mr Oyamo for about one hour in a hotel, he showed up only to claim the venue of the meeting was not conducive.
He told Mr Oduor that a vehicle was waiting outside to take them to "favourable place" for the ‘bean-spilling meeting’.
The journalist and the woman got into the black car that had a driver and a co-driver before it sped off.
Minutes later, two tall, mean-looking men stopped the vehicle within the town before Mr Oyamo alighted and the driver sped off towards Homa Bay town.
"We were ordered to switch off our phones and hand them over to one of the men in the vehicle," said Mr Oduor.
Mr Oduor said the abductors also confiscated his wallet, staff ID and Sh2,000 that was in the pocket.
Upon reaching Homa Bay town, the men drove towards Kisumu, pulling windows up.
Apart from orders to surrender his valuables, Mr Oduor said there was no sign of trouble.
But things turned ugly at Nyangweso market when the unidentified men began torturing Mr Oduor and the woman, whose fate was not immediately known.
Mr Oduor said one of the men held his neck and tried to strangle him repeatedly.
At this point he knew he was not safe anymore and he fought back, opened the door and jumped out of the moving car.
He sustained serious tissue injuries on knees, palms, the back and elbows.
The vehicle stopped a few metres away, Mr Oduor recalled, and the two men alighted to chase after him.
In pain, he decided to run for his life and entered a home next to the road.
With bruised palms and knees, Mr Oduor crawled through the bushes into the homestead.
A Good Samaritan emerged and drove him to report the matter at a nearby police post before he was transferred to Kendu Bay Police Station.
After briefing the police, Mr Oduor was rushed to Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu for treatment by his colleagues, led by Nyanza Regional Editor Aggrey Mutambo.
Mr Obado on Tuesday said he was not aware of Mr Oyamo's plan, adding that his name "shouldn't be dragged into such criminal schemes".
"He just read it online this morning. Let police do the investigations and take necessary actions. Associating the governor with this incidence could be a political ploy meant to tarnish his name ," Mr Obado's press secretary Nicholas Anyuor told the Nation.
Kendu Bay criminal investigations officer Joseph Ngare said they were pursuing the case.
"We have received the report and consequently launched investigations into the matter," he said.
The attack comes three days after another Nation journalist, Murang'a-based Ndung'u Gachane, was arrested outside Murang’a Water and Sanitation Company (Muwasco) offices while covering the leadership wrangle that pitted Governor Mwangi Wa Iria against tycoon Peter Munga.
And on August 16, two Nation journalists, Karim Rajan (NTV cameraman) and Laban Walloga (Daily Nation photographer), were attacked and arrested for filming the construction of a hotel that has encroached into the Indian Ocean.
Additional report by Harry Misiko.