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10 held in Kakamega after body exhumed to retrieve uniform

Thursday August 15 2019

Coffin bearing the remains of Martin Shikuku

The coffin bearing the remains of Martin Shikuku Alukoye after it was dug up by Kakamega County officials to retrieve the youth service uniform that he was buried in. PHOTO | SHABAN MAKOKHA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SHABAN MAKOKHA
By SHABAN MAKOKHA
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Police in Kakamega County are holding 10 people for questioning following the shocking move to exhume a youth service employee's body to retrieve the uniform he was buried in.

Martin Shikuku Alukoye, 31, drowned in River Eburinde on August 7 and was buried on Monday night in line with Luhya customs after his clan elders conducted rituals to cleanse the family.

Villagers were shocked when the next day, a group from the county government stormed his graveyard and exhumed his body to recover the service uniform.

COURT ORDER

On Thursday, police summoned five county officers, four of Martin's family members and the area's assistant chief for taking part in the exercise in Eburinde village in Butere Sub-county.

Butere Deputy Sub-county Police Commander Julius Achuka said they will carry out a thorough probe and ensure those culpable of tampering with a buried body are prosecuted.

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"We are recording statements from 10 people in connection with exhuming a body without following the right procedures," Mr Achuka told journalists at the Butere Police Station.

"We are yet to know whether there was a court order that allowed the people who exhumed the body to dig up the grave."

Reached for comment, however, Butere Sub-county administrator Vitalis Masakhwe said he was not aware that county officials were being held.

Martin's brother Patrick Alukoye said the county officials hang the uniform on a tree near the grave and left there for two days.

"They collected it on August 14 after learning we had reported the incidence to police," he said.

WHAT HAPPENED

Martin's family said he was epileptic and that he drowned after suffering a seizure while crossing the river,

He was buried fully dressed in the green uniform, complete with boots, the service cap and a lanyard.

On August 12, Ituti community county administrator, accompanied by other administrators, visited the home in a bid to take back the service attire but were informed that Martin had been buried in it.

It was then that the county officials demanded that the body be exhumed.

Pleas by family members who resisted the move fell on deaf ears.

NO ADVICE

Martin's uncle Francis Mutamba said some county officers attended the burial but did not advise the family on the matter.

"The officers went against the laws of the land and the laws of our forefathers as they dismantled the coffin to reclaim the uniform. We fully involved the county government in the burial but they later resisted our proposal to bury our son in his work regalia."

Ituti sub-location assistant chief Daniel Namayi condemned the action and threatened to lead the family in taking legal action against the county officers.

“Once a body has been buried, anyone with a complaint must obtain a court order to exhume it. The county administrators have gone against the law in recovering their clothes,” said Mr Namayi.

He added that since police who die in service are buried in their uniforms, people in smaller units should be accorded the same treatment.

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