Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa, currently the subject of a murder probe, is no stranger to controversy.
Barasa, who just won a second term in office, is accused of shooting dead an aide to his political rival Brian Khaemba on August 9 at a polling station in Bungoma County.
The incident involved Barasa and Khaemba of DAP-K at Chebukwabi polling station where they were to witness the counting of votes.
Bungoma head of DCI Joseph Ondoro said an altercation broke out between the two, prompting Khaemba to leave and head to his car.
Barasa is said to have ordered his men to ensure Khaemba doesn’t leave and when the latter’s driver defied the orders, Barasa allegedly drew his gun and aimed at Khaemba’s aide, Brian Olunga, shooting him in the head.
Olunga was pronounced dead when he was being taken to hospital.
Speaking to the Nairobian, the parents to the deceased expressed their sorrow and loss, explaining that they still are in shock.
“That Tuesday evening I received a call from my friend, telling me that a boy had been shot dead and that he resembled my son. He asked me to check the photos he had sent me on WhatsApp and true to his word, I confirmed that was my son. My heart sunk,” said Olunga’s father, Tobias Olunga.
Tobias said Brian had moved to Kimilili from their home in Malava, Kakamega County, to help an MP aspirant with his campaigns and that they never expected to receive the news of his death the way it happened.
“Brian was our first born child and it was and still is painful that we have to come to terms with his death. He was still young and vibrant with a bright future ahead of him,” said Tobias.
The family of the deceased is now asking the authorities to move fast and ensure that justice is served for their son.
“We are asking the police to not let go of those responsible for my son’s death; let justice prevail,” he said.
Barasa surrendered to the DCI days after going into hiding, following the shooting incident. He denied the allegations, saying he was a target of an assassination attempt.
He was detained at Kisumu Police Station over the weekend and was arraigned on Monday to answer to murder charges. The MP is yet to be charged after prosecution asked for more time to allow more witnesses, including NYS and IEBC officials who were present when the incident occured, to record their statements.
Led by ODPP Head Western Region, Peter Kiprop, the prosecution requested for more time to engage Witness Protection Agency (WPA) to protect witnesses who expressed fear to testify. The detective also asked for more time to complete and present ballistic and postmortem reports.
Ezekiel Odeoh of the Rural Empowerment Development Organisation said the civil society condemned the act by the Kimilili MP and termed it inhuman and uncalled for. He said Barasa should be prosecuted for his violent acts so that justice is served.
“He shouldn’t have gone to such an extent because of political differences. Justice has to be served and it can only be done with his prosecution,” said Odeoh.
He added that Barasa’s victory as the Kimilili legislature in the just concluded elections is not a worthy victory as he does not deserve to lead.
The UDA MP recaptured his seat after garnering 26,861 votes against Khaemba’s 9,497, but constituency Returning Officer George Omondi refused to hand the election certificate to some agents who purported to represent him.
Barasa is not new to controversy. Last year, he was caught on camera slapping a contractor, Stephen Masinde, alias Steve Kay.
Masinde had been given a Constituency Development Fund (CDF) tender to construct classrooms at Lurare Primary School in Kamukuywa.
He alleged he was never paid for work done. Barasa was set to commission the new classrooms when Masinde locked all of them and asked to be paid before the commissioning was done. Barasa, who was not amused by his actions, slapped him in front of cameras.
Two months ago, the Kimilili MP was on police radar over claims that he had changed the number plates of a government vehicle and replaced them with private ones, then branded it with United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party colours, complete with his campaign portrait.
According to the police, the vehicle’s registration number plate was changed to hide its original identity.
Earlier, Kimilili Sub-county Police Boss Mwita Marua said the vehicle whose original registration details read GK948J, a double cabin pick-up truck belonging to the National Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF), had a new registration number – KBS 709D. It was impounded in Barasa’s homestead at Nasianda village.
“We conducted a joint operation involving the Government Check Unit officers from Nairobi, Serious Crimes personnel and DCI. The contingent invaded the lawmaker’s homestead following extensive investigations and managed to recover the vehicle, which was towed to Kimilili Police Station then Bungoma and later Nairobi,” said the sub-county police commander.
Marua said police acted on a tip-off from members of the public who spotted the vehicle on the MP’s campaign trail.
But Barasa defended himself, saying the vehicle belongs to the CDF, but noted that it was painted in UDA colours by mistake.
He said whoever was branding was instructed to display complete CDF projects on it and not party colours.
The MP said the issue of number plates was not a big one because he usually changes the registration numbers on the vehicles he uses regularly for security reasons.
Despite his antics, Barasa remains a hugely popular figure in his Kimilili constituency and the wider Bungoma County.
He has won accolades for modernising primary schools in his constituency by getting rid of mud walled structures.