Migori governor Okoth Obado yesterday became the first person to be charged in connection with the murder of Sharon Otieno as investigators continue to pursue the actual killers said to be on the run.
Other suspects, among them Obado’s personal assistants, Micheal Juma Oyamo Caspal Obiero, are expected to be charged tomorrow.
Obado who was spent the weekend in police custody appeared calm but pensive in the face of accusations of murdering his lover, Sharon.
He denied the charge and immediately his lawyers urged the court to release him on bail on grounds that his family solely depends on him and will suffer if he is detained.
But Justice Jesse Lessit directed that Obado be remanded at the Industrial Area prison and scheduled the bail application for hearing today.
Renown for her strictness in court, the presiding judge of the criminal division of the High Court in Nairobi is a jurist of few words.
Among the prominent cases she has handled include murder case against businessman Kamlesh Pattni and recently the murder case against prison beauty queen Ruth Kamande.
While she freed Pattni for lack of evidence, she sentenced Kamande to death for killing her boyfriend in cold blood.
Obado was accused of murdering Sharon between September 3-4, 2018, in Rachuonyo sub county within Homa Bay county jointly with others not before court.
Obado’s defence lawyers included former judge Nicholas Ombija, Evans Ondieki, Cliff Ombeta and Rodgers Sagana.
Ombija told Justice Lessit that his client is not a flight risk and will attend court whenever required to do so.
"I shall abide by all conditions that shall be set by the court as a prerequisite for being granted bail. I shall not interfere with witnesses in this matter or investigations should any be carried out," he said on behalf of his client.
In his affidavit, Obado says he is married to Hellen Obado and they have six school going children who depend on him for all their financial needs.
"The offence of murder like all other offences is bailable under the law. The said allegations however grave cannot deny me my basic fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the constitution," Obado said.
The prosecution led by Deputy Director Jacob Ondari applied for the case to be mentioned on tomorrow when Obado’s co-accused will be arraigned in court.
Obado was whisked away to the Milimani basement cells at 11.20am as a few supporters who had thronged the courtroom lined to to greet him.
Outside the courts, a group of women chanted and displayed placards written in dholuo “To ngama Okoth Ka chode to Iywago
Nang’o?” meaning “Mtu amekufia kwa umalaya unamlilia nini?” (why mourn someone who has died through prostitution).
Others chanted, “Release our Governor, Free Obado!”
One Florence Achieng was captured offering her apologies to the governor.
"Obado is the most honest person we know and if it is about committing adultery every African man has done it. If he had an ill-motive in the case, the pregnancy would have been terminated," she offered.
Sharon’s mother on the other hand left the court quietly looking frail and lost in her thoughts.
In a statement issued in the morning before the trial, the DPP said persons featuring prominently in the murder were either employees of the county government or close acquaintances of the governor assigned to handle the matter carefully to avoid public ridicule and political backlash.
"Sharon and her unborn baby lost their lives in a gruesome and horrifying manner in the hands of her killers. My office is therefore committed to ensuring that all the perpetrators of the heinous act are brought to book and subjected to the due process of the law," read part of the statement.
The DPP said they were able to establish that motor vehicle KCL 481 K, Toyota Fielder dark grey in color, was used in the alleged kidnapping of Sharon and Nation Group journalist Barrack Oduor.
Sharon’s body was later found on September 4 in a thicket near Oyugis town.
The vehicle was intercepted on 16 September within Migori town and its driver, Jackson Otieno Gombe, arrested.
When Gombe was questioned, it emerged that the vehicle operates as a taxi within Migori county and is registered in the name of Olivia Oloo Adhiambo, an employee of the Migori county government.
Olivia is married to Caspal Ojwang Obiero who also works at the county as PA to the governor.
"The car track system in the vehicle was deactivated on September 3 –the date of the incident and reactivated the following day. This clearly was a well calculated move by the killers to conceal the movement of the vehicle in question," the DPP said.