Is he under arrest or just enjoying better security? Police cagey on governor’s status.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado was last evening putting on a strong show in the face of allegations concerning the abduction and subsequent murder of his girlfriend, university student Sharon Otieno, last week.
After an eight-hour grilling at the regional headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kisumu, Mr Obado was whisked out in a police car and driven to an undisclosed location late in the evening.
Police officers were quick to point out that the governor was not under arrest as investigations were still underway, even though other sources last evening indicated he could be escorted to Nairobi for further questioning.
The Nation could not independently confirm either of these claims by the time of going to press.
His lawyers, Cliff Ombeta and Roger Sagana, told the media that the governor should not be associated with the crime at all.
“He has not been arrested,” Mr Ombeta pointed out, adding that the governor had been treated relatively well by the detectives.
Earlier, forensic detectives had taken what is believed to be samples for DNA testing from him.
As he denied any link to the kidnapping and murder of Ms Otieno, Mr Obado told investigators that, in the wake of growing animosity against him in the region over the crime, he needed to keep his security detail.
He had become a marked man since the story broke last week, he argued, and mobs had been baying for his blood for days. Any lapse in his security detail could, therefore, turn catastrophic, he argued.
To illustrate how badly off he has been, he told police officers that he has not been able to go to his office in Migori because of the poisoned environment.
His safety assured, Mr Obado told the police that, while he may have met or spoken with Ms Otieno and Nation journalist Barrack Oduor, he had not planned to abduct or kill them.
Wearing a loose shirt and dark-green trousers, he appeared at ease despite the raging controversy, and even smiled wryly as he was ushered in and out of the police station.
Used to chase cars and a security bubble, Mr Obado arrived at the station in a police-issue Toyota Landcruiser truck.
He was accompanied by some of his inner-circle officials, among them Communications Director Nicholas Anyuor and County Secretary Christopher Rusana. His lawyers sat with him throughout the questioning.
Mr Obado was thrust into a furious controversy last week after seven-months-pregnant Ms Otieno was kidnapped, alongside Mr Oduor, and killed in Homa Bay. Mr Oduor says he escaped from the captors’ moving car and reported the matter at Kendu Bay Police Station.
The journalist named Mr Michael Oyamo, Mr Obado’s aide, as the person who invited him to a meeting that led to the abduction.
Mr Obado rejected the association with the plot to murder and distanced himself from the alleged actions of his aide, who has also denied hiring the gang that committed the crime.
As Mr Obado sat in the interrogation room atop the regional police headquarters, Mr Oyamo was whisked in from Homa Bay, where he had been released on bail but promptly re-arrested. The two were not allowed to talk to each other.
Homa Bay County Commander Marius Tum has said that Mr Oyamo would be charged in Nairobi at around 2pm Tuesday, but by 4pm he, Mr Oduor and Mr Obado were all being guarded at the Nyanza Regional Police headquarters in Kisumu, albeit in separate rooms or cars.
Detectives will now await the results of an analysis of phone calls Mr Obado made before and during the time Ms Otieno vanished.