Kenya: Okoth Obado Keeps Low Profile As Detectives Hunt Sharon Killers

Sharon Otieno who was kidnapped with Nation journalist Barrack Oduor on September 3, 2018. She was found dead on September 5, 2018.
7 September 2018

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi on Thursday confirmed that he introduced Nation journalist Barrack Oduor to Migori Governor Okoth Obado in the days leading to Mr Oduor's kidnap and the killing of 26-year-old university student Sharon Otieno.

Speaking to the Nation, Mr Mbadi said Mr Oduor approached him seeking his help in getting access to the governor over a "sensitive" matter.

He added: "Your journalist Barrack approached me asking me to help him reach Obado over what he called a very sensitive matter.

"I however forgot about it but after one or two days the governor called me over a totally different matter. After we had discussed the matter, I remembered and told him, 'by the way, there is a Nation reporter based in Homa Bay who wants to talk to you over some matter he says is sensitive, so please get in touch with him'.

"The governor told me, 'No problem, give me his (Oduor) number' and I gave him the number. I remember it was on September 1. That is as far as it went. Barrack is my friend and it is not unusual for me to give contacts of my friends to journalists whenever they want to get in touch with them."


The Nation reporter appears to have interacted with Ms Otieno, Migori Governor Okoth Obado and Mr Obado's aide Michael Oyamo, longer than initially thought.

Detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are analysing telephone and text conversations over the past month-and-half to understand the nature of the relationship and how it precipitated, if at all, the reported abduction of the duo and the subsequent killing of Ms Otieno.

An officer privy to the investigation said they were doing multilateration (a surveillance technique based on the measurement of the difference in distance to two stations at known locations by broadcast signals at known times) to establish the frequency of their meetings to try and tease out whether there was a tragic story of love, betrayal or extortion in the saga.

And even though the journalist -- Mr Oduor -- said that his phone and that one of Sharon were confiscated by their abductors on Monday, police said they would use mobile service provider signals to investigate their movements and whether threats were exchanged among them.


Mr Oduor knew Ms Otieno for close to a month, the two met several times and even travelled together twice from Homa Bay to Nairobi on a mission to meet the Governor, but did not manage to, as Mr Obado had travelled to Makueni with other governors.

Interviewed by fellow journalists at Nation Centre, Mr Oduor said he was approached by Ms Otieno who told him that she needed to share a story with him.

"We met for the first time almost a month ago and she told me that she had been having an affair with the governor. I questioned her about her details and she said she was a student.

"She also told me that she wanted the story made public because the governor had neglected her. Even so, she admitted to have received Sh100,000 from the governor three weeks before our meeting, an amount she said was too little as compared to what she had been receiving from him before he started ignoring her calls and texts," Mr Oduor said.

According to Mr Oduor, Ms Otieno she revealed that their affair went sour when the governor discovered that Ms Otieno had been chatting with his own son.

The governor accused her of having an affair with him.


To prove the allegations, Ms Otieno showed Mr Oduor telephone conversations and WhatsApp chats between herself and Mr Obado.

She allegedly also played a recording of a phone conversation whereby the governor purportedly asked her to have an abortion and stop posting too many pictures on social media.

After hearing her story, the journalist said he decided to contact the governor through Mr Mbadi so as to get his side of the story.

Mr Mbadi, true to his word, told the governor that a journalist wanted to speak with him.

"Governor Obado called me later and I gave him the story. He said he would not deny or confirm the allegations. He told me that his personal assistant would handle the issue."

Days later, he said, they travelled together with Ms Otieno to meet the governor in Nairobi but were unable to see him. They travelled back.

"Sharon was constantly hesitant about the story being published in the media. From my understanding, she was not decided fully and so I took my time to conduct more investigations.

"She however kept sending some pictures to the governor, which annoyed him. I still don't know the kind of pictures those were, but she said he was not happy," Mr Oduor said.


The conversation between Mr Oduor and Ms Otieno was halted for some time, until on Monday (the day they were abducted) when Ms Otieno called Mr Oduor, telling him that the governor's aide, Michael Oyamo, had asked her to ask him to go and meet him.

Ms Otieno, who was a second year Medical Records and Information student at Rongo University, was the one in contact with the PA all this time and planned the meeting, according Mr Oduor.

Mr Oyamo, Mr Oduor and Sharon met at Graca Hotel in Rongo around 7.35pm, but the PA said that they had to move to a different venue.

They all boarded a vehicle with two occupants that sped towards Kisumu.

On the way, the car stopped and Mr Oyamo disembarked, two people got in and sandwiched Mr Otieno and Mr Oduor between them, according to the journalist.

On the way, the two men became violent and tortured them and on sensing danger, Mr Oduor jumped out of the moving vehicle at Nyangweso market on the Homa Bay-Kisumu road, and escaped into a nearby homestead, according to the journalist.


Mr Oyamo was arrested on Tuesday morning while the body of Sharon was discovered in a thicket in Kodero market.

The questions that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations are seeking to answer include: the identity of the men who went away with the student, the kind of relationship the four main people of interest in the saga had, the reason behind the brutal murder of the seven-month pregnant student, if indeed the governor was responsible for her pregnancy and whether the murder was linked to that fact.

The other question is why the abductors, knowing too well that one of their captives had escaped and could spill the beans and get them arrested, went ahead to kill the student, if indeed they were responsible for that.

Detectives, including their boss, Mr George Kinoti, say they cannot yet reveal their suspect in the abduction and murder as this could jeopardise their investigations.

Meanwhile, Mr Obado kept a low profile despite his name being adversely mentioned as a person of interest in death of the student.

Instead, Mr Obado reacted to the allegations through his press secretary, Mr Nicholas Anyuor.


Ms Otieno's mother Melida Auma reiterated that her daughter had told her of an affair with Mr Obado and said it was not a secret

"She told me the governor was responsible for her pregnancy and that he would care for her until childbirth," she said.

Ms Auma also disclosed that her first born daughter was abducted on Monday evening, she left her spare phone at home.

"Luckily, her sister had the pin and she switched it on. I found many calls marked unknown and was not able to identify the callers. The phone was handed over to the CID," she said.

But Mr Obado, through Mr Anyuor, insisted that the governor's opponents could be behind his current woes.

"I said the governor will not be drawn into the matter which is under police investigation, because he has not been implicated," Mr Anyuor said.

He insisted that Mr Obado will only comment if he is required to do so by the police.


On Thursday, Nyanza regional DCI boss Michael Barasa did not confirm or deny that they will interrogate Governor Obado over the incident.

The CID boss however noted that they were concerned by Mr Obado's communication secretary's utterances, which he noted may compel them to question him.

"We have noted the official has been making comments on behalf of the governor over this matter and if need be, we shall also question him," the officer said.

Mr Anyuor had initially argued that "associating the governor with this incident could be a political ploy meant to tarnish his name".

But Mr Barasa said it was only fair for the officer to give details of his thoughts.

Asked whether they would question Mr Obado for being a person of interest in the case, the DCI boss said: "At the moment I cannot comment on that because there are channels of investigation. We don't want to make comments that may prejudice the ongoing process."

"Our team from Nairobi is working with us to unravel the mystery surrounding the death and abduction."

But it is Mr Obado's inexplicable silence that is worrying.


On Thursday, the Nation independently established that Mr Obado was meant to represent the Council of Governors at the ongoing African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda, as the COGs Agriculture Committee Chairman.

Sources told the Nation the Governor had planned to travel on September 4, a day after Ms Otieno and Mr Oduor were abducted.

The AGRF event kicked off on Wednesday, September 5, the day Ms Otieno's body was discovered in a thicket in Oyugis, Homa Bay County.

The event concludes on Saturday, September 8, but the governor is not in Kigali.

Mr Obado may have shelved his trip because of the ongoing investigations.

"It is true the governor was to represent the CoG at the event in Rwanda but I cannot authoritatively tell you about his whereabouts. Let your Nairobi team check for him in the city," a source familiar with the Rwanda trip told Nation.


In Migori, another source revealed that the governor was last seen in office last week and that he travelled to Nairobi on Monday awaiting his Tuesday travel to Rwanda.

Monday is the day Ms Otieno and Mr Oduor were abducted. Mr Anyuor was cagey over the governor's whereabouts.

The official said he could not comment on the governor's locations but only respond to any queries directed at his boss.

"Why do you want to know where the governor is? I am his press secretary and whatever I tell you is his response," Mr Anyuor said.

On Wednesday, at the governors elaborate Rapogi home in Uriri, riot police were deployed on Wednesday as students of Rongo University protested against Ms Otieno's killing.

Yesterday, there was minimal activity at the home.

The usual sirens that normally rent the air as the governor arrives and leaves were conspicuously silent.


During the protests, no county vehicles were able to operate past Rongo from Migori Town.

Uriri politician Bernard Omondi yesterday wondered why Mr Obado was silent on the death of Ms Otieno despite being adversely mentioned.

"His silence is not normal. If he is clean, why can't he come out and clear his name? Let him come out of his hideout and speak," Mr Omondi, popularly known as Omondi Gwonyo, told the Nation.

"How comes heavily armed police were spotted guarding his home on Wednesday as the students' protested? The police must move swiftly and question him on this matter once and for all."

Governor Obado's two cell phones remained off the whole day yesterday. Many in Migori believe the governor is holed up in his Nairobi home.

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