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Man who fishes bodies from River Yala fears for his life

Nicholas Okero Okite at River Yala in Gem, Siaya County. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

A man who has been retrieving bodies dumped in River Yala now claims his life is in danger.

Nicholas Okero said some security officers in Yala on Wednesday warned him to be careful as there were plans to implicate him in the mystery surrounding the bodies.

Okero yesterday told The Saturday Standard that a Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) officer in Yala, Gem sub-county, summoned him to collect his token, which he is normally paid after retrieving a body.

But when he got to the station, he was directed to an office where there was a senior official from the DCI headquarters in Nairobi.

“When I got to DCI office, he took me to another office where I was asked to put my phone on the table and immediately asked to wait outside,” said Okero.

“Immediately, the officer joined about 15 other people in the next office where they held a meeting until 3pm. Among the 15 people were my area chief, assistant chief and officials from Nairobi,” he added.

Okero said after the meeting, he was asked to get into a room to record a statement detailing when and how he started retrieving bodies. 

Nicholas Okero claims he has retrieved about 30 bodies from River Yala. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

He said he was summoned in the morning but left the police station at around 5pm after a long day of grilling. Out of fear for his life, he did not spend the night in his home on Wednesday night. 

“The person who gave me information said I have to be careful with the many interviews I have been doing with media and human rights activists because his senior colleagues were not impressed,” said Okero.

However, Gem Deputy County Commissioner Charles Chacha yesterday defended his colleagues, saying nobody had threatened Okero.

Chacha said Okero had just been summoned to write a statement in regards to the bodies that have been retrieved from the river.

In previous interviews, Okero said he had retrieved about 30 bodies from River Yala, but police said only 19 bodies have been retrieved in the last two years.