Sharon Otieno murder and the 2018 Governor Obado would rather forget

Rongo University student Sharon Otieno. She was 7-months pregnant at the time of her murder. [File, Standard]

It was 3.30pm on September 4 when Moses Ongili, a peasant farmer from Ogero Village in Homa Bay County, stumbled on a mutilated body of a woman.

“It was ghastly. I felt my body freeze in shock. She lay naked, facing down,” an apprehensive and restless Ongili would tell journalists.

A 26-year-old student at Rongo University in Migori County, Sharon Otieno had been gruesomely murdered and her body dumped in Kodera Forest.

Her murder, many would have argued was not going to get sustained media attention. They were wrong. This case was different. A glittering life of varsity girl. A dramatic kidnapping. A pregnancy. A governor. A rape. A foul murder--- stabbed three times in the neck, four times in the back and once in the left side of the abdomen, killing her seven-month foetus.

Residents of Ogera Village, Rachuonyo South Sub-county at the scene where Sharon Otieno’s body was found. [James Omoro]

Where it all began

On September 3, Sharon Otieno, the girlfriend of Migori Governor Okoth Obado met one of the governor’s aide Michael Oyamo. She was in the company of Nation journalist Barrack Oduor.

The meeting had been long coming, Sharon was keen on getting support from Obado who had long stopped responding to her calls and text messages.

Amidst her protest to meet the governor’s aide in Rodi Kopany, which was nearer home, the meeting was set for Graca Hotel in Rongo.

At Graca Hotel, Odour said Oyamo asked them (Sharon and Oduor) to leave after paying their bills. He led them to a Toyota Fielder headed for Homa Bay town.

According to Oduor’s account, Oyamo alighted from the car a few metres away from the hotel. Two other men jumped in and sandwiched Sharon and Oduor.

Oduor said he escaped by jumping out of the abductors’ speeding car at Nyangweso market along the Homa Bay-Kisumu road, sustaining injuries. Sharon was left behind, only for her body to be found in a thicket the next day. Her body had been sprayed with acid.

Oyamo was arrested in connection with the murder a day later. He was whisked away from Kisumu Airport, where he and Governor Obado were waiting for a flight to Nairobi for onward travel to Rwanda.

On September 11, Governor Obado would be actively thrown into the investigation. He was interrogated by DCI sleuths in Kisumu for over eight hours. It was also on this day that his aide Oyamo was released and re-arrested.

Two days later, Obado described his six-month romantic relationship with Sharon at a press conference in Nairobi. His family sat by his as the cameras rolled. They were aware of his affair; he told the press.

Obado distanced himself from the murder saying he had ‘nothing and absolutely nothing’ to do with it.

Two days later, detectives intercepted a dark grey Toyota Fielder registration KCL 481K that was allegedly used in the kidnapping.

 Its driver Jackson Otieno Gumbo was arrested triggering the arrest of Casper Otieno, who ran errands for the governor. Casper’s wife owns the Toyota Fielder.

Governor Obado became the fifth suspect in the murder a day after DNA analysis showed that the seven-month-old baby Sharon was carrying was his baby. He was detained at Gigiri Police Station on orders of DCI boss George Kinoti.

From left: Casper Obiero, Michael Oyamo and Migori Governor Okoth Obado in the dock at the Milimani Law Courts. [Beverlyne Musili, Standard]

Murder charges

Mr Obado was locked up at Industrial Area Prison, his personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Migori County Clerk Caspal Ojwang were jointly charged with the murder of Sharon.

Their lawyers would battle to secure their release on bail for close to a month.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado (left) and Michael Oyamo board a Kenya Prisons Service bus at the Milimani Law Courts on October 24, 2018 after a bail hearing. The governor returned to Industrial Area Remand Prison as he was unable to execute his bail terms. [George Njunge, Standard]

Obado walked to freedom after 33 days in detention when Justice Lesiit ruled that there was only circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder of Sharon and her unborn baby, and which could not be used as sufficient reason to deny him bail.

But it was a different story for Obado's co-accused - personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Migori County clerk Caspal Obiero - who Justice Lesiit denied bail on grounds that there was a strong case against them.

According to the judge, the prosecution’s evidence directly linked Oyamo and Ojwang' to Sharon’s murder, and releasing them would give them leeway to escape to avoid the death sentence if found guilty.

Sharon Otieno was finally laid to rest on October 19, 46 days after she was brutally murdered, in a ceremony punctuated by emotional eulogies.

Pallbearers carry a coffin bearing the remains of slain university student Sharon Otieno. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The hearing of her murder case is set for two weeks from May 6 to May 17 2019.

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