Police in Nyanza region were on Tuesday evening piecing together a failed scheme to abduct a Nation journalist even as the key suspect in the dirty deal was detained.
Mr Barack Oduor, who covers the expansive Homa Bay County, was forced to jump out of a speeding car driven by his abductors after he sensed they could harm him.
But what started as a meet-the-source affair between the reporter and the Personal Assistant of Migori Governor Okoth Obado, Mr Michael Oyamo, is now a subject of criminal investigation.
On Tuesday, the Governor fought back any association with the kidnapping incident saying his aide had acted on his own and should face police investigations.
“The Governor is not aware of such a plan and his name should not be dragged into such criminal schemes,” Mr Obado’s spokesman, Mr Nicholas Anyuor, told the Nation.
“Let the police do the investigations and take necessary actions,” he added.
The Kenya Union of Journalists condemned the incident, saying it was a ploy to scare journalists.
“Intimidation and attacks will not stop journalists from telling stories of infidelity and wanton corruption in the two counties where there are no tangible results of devolution,” Mr Erick Oduor, the KUJ Secretary-General said.
The scheme began when Mr Oyamo approached the Nation reporter after a 26-year-old university student contacted the journalist and gave him information about an affair that left her pregnant and that the man responsible had turned his back on her.
The young woman, Sharon Otieno, is a second year Medical Records and Information student at Rongo University. She is seven months pregnant.
Mr Oduor was abducted together with Sharon after Mr Oyamo led them to a meeting at Graca Hotel in Rongo around 7:35pm, while promising to provide some information on the matter.
Sharon’s whereabouts still remained unknown by last evening but Mr Oduor was nursing serious injuries he sustained after he jumped out of the vehicle at Nyangweso market on the Homa Bay-Kisumu road.
Mr Oyamo has been working for the Governor for some years now. An ex-soldier, he presents the loyalty of a military man, something that has earned him unmatched legitimacy in the Governor’s office, his associates say.
Detectives arrested him in Uriri, Migori County and wheeled him to Homa Bay for interrogation, Nyanza DCI boss Michael Barasa and Migori County’s Benedict Kigen confirmed.
Mr Oduor reported the incident at Kendu Bay police station on Monday night and proceeded for treatment at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu.
He recorded a statement at Central police station in Kisumu town, as he nursed gaping wounds on his two knees and sloughed palms, the stamp of his courage to take a leap that turned out to be his salvation.
Mr Oduor says his source had agreed to meet him at Rodi Kopany in Homa Bay before he changed venues twice, finally settling for Rongo. Still, there was no suspicion as the man is a well-known county official.
SEALED THEIR FATE
But it was the change from one venue to another within Rongo that appeared to have sealed their fate.
They left Rongo eventually, with Mr Oyamo, the driver and another man. But a few minutes later, Mr Oyamo directed the driver to stop and he stepped out.
Two men in black immediately jumped in, sandwiching Mr Oduor and Sharon in the back seat, as the car sped off, without Mr Oyamo.
The men engaged in a chat as the driver took the highway, heading towards Kisumu.
“I was relaxed initially and we even had a chat on politics with the two guys. But then they started strangling me and the lady,” Mr Oduor told journalists in Kisumu.
“I notice the door wasn’t locked and decided to jump as the Homa Bay highway is usually not busy. I took a gamble and it saved me,” he added.