Court frees Governor Okoth Obado from prosecution’s jaws in guns case

Migori governor Okoth Obado and his lawyer Cliff Ombeta at a Kibera court where police applied to hold him for 15 days for allegedly being in possession of firearms. [George Njunge / Standard]
Kibera Chief Magistrate Joyce Gandani came to the rescue of embattled Migori Governor Okoth Obado, saving him from prosecutors who wanted him detained for two weeks.

Ms Gandani’s decision came as a big relief for Obado, who is already having a battle of his life both at the courts over the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno and to save his battered political image.

The magistrate ruled that the prosecution had not produced compelling reasons to detain Obado for 15 days in relation to three guns found at his rural home in Rapogi, Migori County, and released him on a cash bail of Sh200,000.

“No one should suffer incarceration without proper due process, it is not fair for the prosecution to state that they want to hold him for more days when they had already had three days since to carry out investigations,” ruled Gandani.

According to the magistrate, the prosecution had not even preferred charges against the governor to warrant detention.

Scene of crime

She ruled that it was not possible for Obado to interfere with investigations and witnesses as claimed by the prosecution since the prosecution had not even disclosed who their witnesses are.

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She agreed with Obado’s defence that it was not possible for him go to his rural home in compliance with the bond conditions issued by the High Court when he was charged with Sharon’s murder which made prosecution’s claims of him visiting the scene of crime baseless.

“It is true that he was barred from going back to his rural home so the prosecution’s apprehension that he will interfere with investigations is not true. In any case, the officers who recovered the guns had already recorded statements from the security personnel at his home,” ruled Gandani.

On the issue of Obado’s phone data records being investigated to establish if the recovered guns had been used to commit other crimes, Ms Gandani ruled that investigators can still obtain the data while he is free.

She said the governor had no control over the phone data to influence the outcome of investigations. The magistrate said the court must strike a balance between administering justice and the rights of the governor and the fact that he must be presumed innocent unless proved otherwise.

“He is a well know public figure who cannot run away from prosecution, and will appear in court or before investigators any time he is required. I find and hold that the prosecution has not produced anything to justify why they want him detained,” said Gandani.

She said being a governor, Obado is expected to serve his people without interference and that investigators know where to find him should they require him to record any statement.

Ms Gandani directed Obado to report to the DCI every two weeks until investigations are complete.

Prosecutors had told the court that they suspect the governor was in possession of the firearms and 57 rounds of ammunition without valid certificates.

Obado, however, denied having the firearms, saying one was planted at his home by EACC detectives who were searching his home over allegations of being involved in a Sh2 billion corruption scandal at the county.   

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Kibera Chief Magistrate Joyce GandaniMigori Governor Okoth ObadoSharon Otieno