The Obados’ five bad days in cells

Migori Governor Okoth Obado (right) with his children at Milimani court last Thursday. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

From their grand home in Migori, referred to by locals as ‘state house’, to the dingy police cells, the family of Governor Okoth Obado has been in unfamiliar territory for the last five days.

For Obado’s four children – Dan Achola, Scarlet Susan, Jerry Zachary and Evelyne Odhiambo – it has been baptism by fire even as they await a ruling on their bail application today.

The governor is, however, not new to the cells having spent 35 days in remand before being released on Sh5 million cash bail after he was linked to the murder of Sharon Otieno in 2018.

Obado and his children were charged last Thursday, alongside seven other suspects, with conspiracy to defraud the County Government of Migori of more than Sh300 million.

The other accused are businessman Jared Oluoch Kwaga who investigators claim is the mastermind of the multi-million shillings heist, his wife Christine Akinyi Ochola, mother Penina Auma, brothers Joram Opala Otieno and Patroba Ochanda Otieno and sister-in-law Carolyne Anyango Ochola.

Anti-corruption court Magistrate Lawrence Mugambi deferred the ruling on the suspects’ application for bail to today and directed that they are remanded in police custody.

Deliver tea and snacks

Obado, his two sons and other male suspects were taken to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Police Station at Integrity Centre while his daughters and the female co-accused are detained at Kileleshwa Police Station.

Unlike the EACC police cells which have beds and mattresses, the daughters at Kileleshwa cells have to put up with life on the cold floor. However, the cells were not crowded as there were only eight remandees.

Scarlet, according to officers at the station, spent much of her time at a corner in the cells and slept for the better part of the days. Her sister walked around and chatted with cellmates.

“At first, we thought she (Scarlet) was sick but after interrogating her, we came to learn that she was only in shock and bored,” said an officer.

The police have also restricted the number of visitors the suspects can have.

The governor’s wife, Hellen Obado, and two other close family members, who include an aunt of the suspects, have been allowed to see the children at least three times a day. They were allowed to deliver home-cooked food.

Mrs Obado was also allowed to carry clothes for her daughters who have been using the bathrooms in the cells.

The sisters were however not been exempted from the normal duties in the cells, including cleaning the floor.

It was a tough balancing act for Mrs Obado who spent about 15 minutes at the Kileleshwa Police Station with the daughters before heading to the EACC Police Station to deliver tea and snacks to her husband and sons.

The governor was allowed to talk with his wife for up to 30 minutes.

However, he did not have access to his mobile phone and only communicated with the outside world whenever his handlers visited him.

The prosecution had opposed the bail application, arguing that the suspects will interfere with witnesses and investigations into the loss of funds from the county government.

Their defence lawyers, led by Kioko Kilukumi, had pleaded with the magistrate to grant them lenient bail terms on account that they are presumed innocent and that every accused person has a right to be released on bail.