Kenya: Police Beat Tough Court Rules to Hold Onto Michael Oyamo

Sharon Otieno's parents Douglas Otieno (in black cap) and Melida Auma (second right) with their relatives at Homa Bay where Migori Governor Okoth Obado's personal assistant Michael Oyamo was to be arraigned over the abduction and murder of their daughter in the picture taken on Tuesday September 11, 2018.
12 September 2018

It was a day full of drama as police circumvented a tough court order and continued detaining Mr Michael Juma Oyamo, the key suspect being held in connection with the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.

Mr Oyamo had walked to freedom on Tuesday morning, but it was short-lived, according to Homa Bay County Police Commander Marius Tum.

Upon walking out of Homa Bay Police Station, where he had been held for several days, detectives who were waiting outside pounced on the former military man and bundled him into a motor vehicle.

Their plan? To ferry him to Nairobi, where he was expected to be charged at the High Court in Milimani.


However, by 3pm, the Nation established that Mr Oyamo was still in Kisumu, where his boss, Migori Governor Okoth Obado, was being questioned over the murder. Mr Oyamo was in a black Subaru Outback car and was guarded heavily by armed police in civilian attire.

Also in Kisumu was Nation journalist Barrack Oduor, who was in a white Land Cruiser.

According to the court order, Mr Oyamo was to be brought to court by 9am on Tuesday or be freed as ordered by the Homa Bay Senior Resident Magistrate, Ms Lester Simiyu.

"I want to make it clear that if the suspect is not brought before the High Court and charges levelled against him by 9am, he is a free man," said the magistrate.

The magistrate had declined the prosecution's request to have Mr Oyamo held for 10 more days and only gave them 24 hours, which were counted from 9am Monday, the time he appeared before the court.


Ms Simiyu pointed to the fact that the suspect's rights were being violated with the continued stay in police cells.

"You don't have to hold him in custody when you are conducting investigations," the magistrate said. She further directed Homa Bay Police Station OCS to ensure the suspect was safe and not to allow members of the public near the station. The magistrate also told the OCS not to move the suspect to another station.

Mr Oyamo's advocates, Mr Neville Amollo, Mrs June Ashioya, and Mr Rogers Miisai, reported to court by 9am, hoping to have their client charged but by 11.30am neither the suspect nor the prosecution had arrived.

They later left and only told journalists they are going to have a cup of tea for 30 minutes. They were met with jeers from the crowd outside the gate, with the public shouting at them, forcing armed police officers to escort them.


Signs of the key suspect in the case appearing in court continued to diminish, as other lawyers and police left, followed by the family of Ms Otieno, including her father, Mr Douglas Otieno, and his wife Melida Auma.

They had no idea whether the case was to be brought to the Homa Bay High Court or any other neighbouring court in Kisii, Kisumu, Nyamira or Kericho.

By 11.50am, the High Court precincts had only few people and journalists, who hoped that the case would start.

It was at this point that Mr Tum told the Nation that they released the suspect to comply with the orders issued by a magistrate court in Homa Bay.

The prosecution appeared to have killed two birds with one stone, complying with the court order by releasing the suspect and at the same time re-arresting him to have him detained again as they proceed with their investigations.

The police were also said to be avoiding meeting with angry mobs that had heckled defence lawyers and were keenly following up the case.


The defence had raised concern in the manner in which the investigations were being carried out accusing the detectives of forcefully extracting DNA samples and moving him from Homa Bay police station.

But the Assistant Director of Public Prosecution Mr Tom Imbali maintained that the matter was of great public interest and therefore they wanted to carry out the investigations expeditiously.

He said they needed more time for proper investigations and that they dispatched a team of experts from Nairobi helping on the ground to expedite the process.

He said they had in their custody gadgets and DNA samples from the suspect that needed analysis which would take days because of the technicalities involved.

"We need three days to analyse call data that we hope will link the suspect to others and DNA samples analysis may be out by three to four days," said Mr Imbali.

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