Kenya: Family of Abducted Migori Blogger Joseph Omollo Seeks Answers

On March 7, this year, a Migori-based blogger Joseph Omollo alias Yusuf Rashid was abducted by unknown men from his bar at Kokuro trading centre, five kilometres from Awendo town.

The four-man AK 47- wielding gang grabbed Mr Rashid and dragged into a waiting vehicle and sped off. More than a month later, the blogger is yet to be found. The police are still looking for the blogger who is close to key politicians from Migori County.

The abduction of Mr Rashid came after he had travelled to Nairobi and Mombasa in February.

Before his abduction, the blogger had claimed that his life was in danger. He claimed that some people wanted to harm him.

Police are now treating his case as that of a 'fake abduction' after it emerged that the missing blogger had once claimed that he had been abducted by a gang he claimed demanded Sh2 million ransom.

Investigations

A detective privy to the ongoing investigations told the Nation that Mr Rashid had in the past demanded a Sh2 million ransom after he claimed that he had been abducted, only to resurface later as investigations were in progress.

But the family of Mr Rashid is piling pressure on detectives to move with speed and find the blogger. Multiple sources, including his family and close contacts pointed out to a possible case of a deal gone sour.

Before he was kidnapped, Mr Rashid had moved out of his residence. His family told Nation that the blogger behaved strangely after returning from his Nairobi and Mombasa trips.

"I suspect there was something sinister because prior to the abduction, he travelled to Nairobi, then to Mombasa. He had even boarded a plane. We cannot tell what deal he was pursuing," his elder brother Edward Omollo told Nation.

Despite making the reports and handing over a spent cartridge from the scene of crime, the family says they are yet to get any updates on the progress of the investigations.

Migori County Assembly speaker Mr Boaz Okoth told Nation that a week before the incident, the blogger had insisted on meeting him.

"I told him that I was away in Kisumu for official duties but he insisted on coming. He took a flight from Nairobi and met me at my hotel room. He looked restless, he said that some people were pursuing him but he never disclosed why," Mr Okoth said.

Mr Okoth has asked police to do everything possible to find the blogger and arrest his abductors.

Spent cartridge

"I feel there is something we are not being told. Any ballistic analyses of the spent cartridge or the latest contacts prior to his abduction are crucial leads that are being shelved by the investigators. Let them disclose their findings," said Mr Okoth.

A detective privy to the investigations told the Nation that the registration number of the vehicle used during the abduction was a fake. The blogger's phone signal was last tracked to around Rongo University on March 8.

"The whole search is proving complex, we last traced his phone signal around Kitere area a day after his abduction. Data from Safaricom indicated that some M-Pesa transaction was made using his phone number from an agent in Nairobi on March 9," said the officer.

The blogger was at his bar when he was accosted by four men who had guns. The men ordered everyone to lie on the floor before dragging him into a waiting salon car which was parked a few metres from the pub.

Those who witnessed the commotion attempted to rescue the blogger but the attackers shot in the air before they car sped off.

"We tried to give chase but on hearing a gunshot, everyone took cover leaving him (Rashid) with his assailants who sped off towards Rongo town," said Mr Dominic Omollo, the blogger's brother.

The incident was reported at Ranen Police and Awendo Sub County police headquarters.

On March 15 the blogger's mother, Naomi Aoko was summoned to Awendo Sub County CID headquarters to record a statement.

"I had no clue over the abduction of my son, I only received the shocking news from his brother that he had been whisked away by gunmen," said Ms Aoko.

The family says that despite the police visiting the scene of crime and recording statements, little has been done to unravel the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the blogger.

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