Speculation has been rife on whether the Raila Odinga family will exhume the body of Fidel Odinga to conduct a DNA test in line with a court order.
That may not be necessary. However, Mr Odinga, his wife Ida, and Fidel’s siblings will have to be tested to determine the paternity of twins claimed to be his children.
Given that their son died in 2015, the usual and shortest path would be to exhume the body and take a sample for comparison, but the High Court order by Justice Aggrey Muchelule did not include exhumation.
On Wednesday, Justice Muchelule directed the parties to cooperate for the extraction of blood samples and other tissues to be used in the tests. The judge left it to the family to decide where the tests will be conducted.
Pathologists will have to make several assumptions in determining the parentage of the twins at the centre of a paternity dispute between the Odinga’s and Fidel’s widow Lwam Bekele.
This then means that the parentage of the twins will have to be sourced from Fidel’s parents, Mrs Ida and Mr Raila Odinga. The pathologists will also be assuming that Mr and Mrs Odinga are parents to Fidel.
Dr Ahmed Kalebi, CEO of Pathologists Lancet, said that the more family members involved the higher the accuracy of the results.
“For accuracy, the samples needed would be the twins and their mother, plus the mother’s parents and Fidel’s parents,” he said.
If one of the paternal grandparents is not available, then the known siblings will have to provide samples for testing. This will also give a high accuracy in the kinship study.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and most living organisms. It’s found in the nucleus of the cells and contained in chromosomes.
The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases. Each half of a child’s chromosome comes from the father and mother.
DNA profiling works by comparing the respective DNA profiles of individuals. Testing the biological mother’s DNA raises chances of a conclusive result.
It is not uncommon for a pathologist to prefer samples of the mother. In 2016, while identifying the victims of the Karai road tragedy, pathologists took only samples from mothers and siblings.
At the time, the state argued that mothers’ DNA is the most reliable.
The twins, born months after Fidel’s death in January 2015, are at the centre of a property battle in which his mother, Ida Odinga, and sister, Winnie, are seeking rights of administration over his estate.
The rights had been granted to Ms Bekele in January, but the Odingas claim this disadvantages the twins, among other issues.
The family has accused Ms Bekele of sidelining the twins in spite of her being aware of their existence, but she argues that the birth certificates attached by Mrs Odinga and her daughter do not tell who the father of the twins is.
She adds that they were born six months after the death of her husband. Ms Bekele, however, says she has no problem including them as beneficiaries of her husband’s estate if they turn out to be Fidel’s children.
“However, should it be proved that the said minors were sired by the deceased, I will include them in the estate. I have never intermeddled with the estate of the deceased person, either before or after being issued with the grant of letters of administration intestate,” Lwam adds.
The judge added that the dispute revolves around paternity and not property. So far, all have agreed but the question remains: who will provide the sample?