Mystery over the disappearance of an EACC officer from home

EACC officer Stephen Kotutwo who disappeared from his home. [File/Standard]
A morning call to a woman, a mysterious car and communication to a lady friend are some leads detectives are pursuing to unravel the disappearance of a senior anti-graft official three weeks ago.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption (EACC) regional head Stephen Kotutwo disappeared from his home in Keben village, Nandi County, on December 16 at around 11am and has not been seen since.

Sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and EACC have zeroed in on two women as they trace his last steps and communication.

Conflicting information has left many lingering questions. Was the anti-corruption officer abducted from his home? Why and what cases was he following up?

The family says on the material day, Kotutwo left home to herd cows on a farm where they had recently harvested maize just 200 metres away with his son.

He was to later go with his wife Betty to a neighbour’s house to celebrate the graduation of their son from university.

“I left him and went to help our neighbour prepare food. He took the cows to graze on our piece of land that borders the forest. We agreed that we would go together to the ceremony in the afternoon,” said Betty.

His wife returned home from the neighbour’s house two hours later to serve him breakfast but Kotutwo was not in the field herding livestock. 

He had asked his son who accompanied him to go and take tea at his grandmother’s home and return to hold brief for him before he went missing.

“I started asking people around the edge of Serengonik forest that borders our land if they had seen him cross over to the forest because the maize field was open, the search began immediately after the neighbour’s ceremony was over,” said Betty.

Ten days search by villagers in the nearby forest was futile.

Kotutwo was transferred to Kisumu office ten months ago after serving in Nairobi for more than seven years in the corruption prevention department.

He had been on leave since November 24th last year, and complained of high blood pressure.

After the fourteen days sick off, Kotutwo 42, and father of five took another 10 days leave that ended on December 27th last year.

“Before he disappeared, he had regained his health and his pressure was stable, we had been doing a lot of walking together. He was looking forward to the festive season and resuming work immediately after,” his wife said.

The detectives however, believe the two women will help them in the investigation.

At 7.35am according to an EACC investigating officer who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, Kotutwo called a woman at Mulango centre near Eldoret airport and spoke for 30 seconds.

“That is the last person he called before his disappearance. We are looking for her to help us with the investigations. Her phone signal has repeatedly shown that she lives in Kiplombe a few kilometres from Eldoret town.”

The sleuths are also looking for another woman in Nairobi who had been seen and communicated often with Kotutwo.

Prior to his disappearance, the EACC officer was a disturbed man.

Kotutwo’s brother-in law, Laban Boit, said he was no longer jolly, was always restless and appeared scared.

“He would be seated in his house facing the window most of the times as if he was in danger and was expecting someone to attack him, he looked scared,” said Mr Boit.

His wife, however says her husband did not indicate that his life was in danger.

Boit said before Kotutwo took the sick off, he once collapsed in his house in Kisumu.

“When he regained consciousness he sheepishly told those who had gone to rescue him that he had taken an overdose of cough syrup.” 

It is not clear if Kotutwo could have planned his mysterious disappearance while everybody in the family was busy.

His wife away with the other children and his elder’s son in the grandmother’s house could have given him enough time to flee if that was his intention.

The brother-in-law talked of a ‘mysterious car’ and gave more leads that are corroborated by an EACC investigating officer who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

A 13-year-old girl from the village claimed that she met Kotutwo crossing the road.

“The girl had visited another village and when she came back after a few days and heard that they were looking for Kotutwo, she claimed to have seen him cross the road from a village path and boarded a Probox,” said the brother in law.

She claimed that Kotutwo sat at the back with another woman before the driver sped off.

The trouser the anti-graft officer wore when he was herding the livestock was found in the house, indicating that he could have sneaked in and changed.

The EACC sleuth said that another woman in the village also claimed to have seen Kotutwo walk towards the ‘strange’ car.

“We picked his phone signal on the same day at 4.32pm at Mogoon village 10km away.”

The signal would be picked again on December 18th last year at 7.53pm before his phone went off network. “It has not been used again,” said the officer. The woman they spoke last in Eldoret and another in Nairobi thought to have been close with him,” he said.

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