The State is treating Migori Governor Okoth Obado as the first accused in the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno after reviewing a series of leads and confessions of suspects in custody linking him to the crime.
Detectives investigating the gruesome murder of the 26-year-old student told the Nation in confidence that statements from three of the suspects that alleged the governor’s involvement will be part of the evidence presented in court.
A driver who is believed to have been at the scene of crime is said to have provided a key missing link.
It was after piecing together the different pieces of evidence that the investigators asked that the governor appears to provide a further statement at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations' headquarters in Nairobi, having recorded his version of events in Kisumu last week.
“There were discrepancies in his earlier statement. That was why we wanted to talk to him again (on Friday), but by Thursday we had collected enough evidence to sustain a case,” our source said.
On Friday night, the DCI announced that Mr Obado had been arrested and taken to Gigiri Police Station.
Police and prosecutors are expected to present him in court on Monday.
Investigators also plan to use elaborate mobile phone data — including phone calls, messages and location — of the suspects to prove movement and motive.
The governor, our source said, was in constant communication with key suspects, most of whom were close to him.
An analysis of his phone records and a range of forensic tests further convinced investigators that the high-profile suspect should be locked up despite protests from his lawyer Cliff Ombeta.
“Was he in Nairobi or in Homa Bay County on the night of the murder?” the investigator, who said the call logs indicated contradictions, asked.
The findings were corroborated by statements obtained from three of the persons, including two suspects already in police custody, and another one whom detectives are treating as a key witness in the murder case.
But Mr Obado has distanced himself from the murder, though admitting that he was in a love affair with the pregnant student.
Results of a DNA test conducted also conclusively established that Mr Obado was the father of Ms Otieno's unborn baby.
“We will treat him as the main suspect in the case because [the] evidence we have so far gathered links him directly to the incident,” a source close to the investigating team said in reference to Mr Obado.
Some of those in custody are said to have accepted to cooperate with the prosecutors in return for lenient sentences.
Mr Obado spent the second night at the Gigiri Police Station in Nairobi on Saturday after he was locked up on Friday.
Mr Obado’s lawyer Ombeta refuted reports on social media that the governor had been taken ill at the police station on Friday night and rushed to hospital.
“All those rumours that he fell sick and was taken to hospital are not true. They are all lies. He is fine and in custody. I have talked to him on phone and he is fine,” Mr Ombeta told Nation.
Besides Mr Obado, others in custody include his personal assistant Michael Oyamo, who was the first to be arrested after Nation journalist Barack Oduor directly linked him to the abduction and murder of Ms Otieno.
Mr Oduor told police that it was Mr Oyamo who lured him and Ms Otieno into a hotel in Rongo, Migori County, on the fateful evening before leading them into a Toyota Fielder, which was carrying the suspected killers.
The second man to be arrested in connection with the murder is former Kanyadoto MCA Lawrence Mula, who is said to have introduced Mr Oduor to Ms Otieno.
Also in custody is another close aide of Mr Obado's, Caspal Obiero, a clerk with the Migori County government.
Mr Obiero was arrested after his wife, Olivia Oloo, recorded a statement with the police last Sunday stating that he had the Toyota Fielder on the night of the murder.
Mr Obado’s personal bodyguard, Eliud Okoth Omondi, is also in custody, having been arrested after he accompanied Mr Obiero to the Migori Police Station to record a statement.
Mr Jack Gombe, a taxi driver, is also in custody after it was established that he was the one driving the Toyota Fielder on the night of the murder.
The detectives revealed that they are treating Mr Oduor and Mr Gombe as witnesses in the murder.
Mr Oduor risked his life by jumping out of the vehicle after he and Ms Otieno were abducted from the Graca Hotel in Rongo Town, and reported the incident at the Kadel Police Station near Kendu Bay township in Homa Bay. He is currently under witness protection.
“Investigations show that the suspect (Gombe) neither knew of, plotted nor executed the plot; he was just a victim of circumstances even if he was known to the main suspects by virtue of taxi business,” the source said.
Following the investigations, the detectives are likely to charge Mr Obado, Mr Oyamo, Mr Omondi, Mr Obiero and Mr Mula for plotting and executing or financing the murder of the university student.
One of the clauses likely to be used reads; “Every person who aids or abets another person in committing the offence; (d) any person who counsels or procures any other person to commit the offence, and in the last-mentioned case he may be charged either with committing the offence or with counselling or procuring its commission.”
Nation also learnt that the State plans to ask that Mr Obado remains in custody to avoid interfering with investigations.
Meanwhile, details of how the head of DCI George Kinoti presided over the delicate operations can also be revealed.
It emerged that Mr Kinoti, aware that there was always a lingering possibility of the investigations being bungled, formed four independent units comprising of elite police officers that had little or no knowledge of the parallel investigations.
Police in Migori and Homa Bay counties were largely kept in the dark as the teams from Nairobi took over.