Migori County Governor Okoth Obado and his fellow co-accused in the Sharon Otieno murder case, Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero, will spend another 12 nights in remand before the High Court determines whether they will be out on bail when the trial gets underway.
By the time Justice Jessie Lessit rules on the bail applications, Governor Obado will have spent a total of 33 nights in custody. Mr. Oyamo and Mr. Obiero will have been held for 50 nights and 36 nights respectively.
After hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence lawyers on October 12, Justice Jessie Lessit ruled that October 24 is the earliest date when she would rule on the bail requests.
Justice Lessit said she will rule on the matter at 9:00am, meaning the waiting game for Governor Obado and his co-accused in the quest to be granted bail will continue.
When the ruling day was set, the defence tried to bring forward the date arguing that Mr. Oyamo had especially spent a longer time in custody without being granted bail. Justice Lessit however said that October 24 is the only early date the ruling could occur.
Governor Obado, Mr. Oyamo and Mr. Obiero have had their cases consolidated into one and are charged with two counts of murder, that of pregnant Rongo University student Sharon Otieno, and her unborn child.
All three have denied the charges brought against them.
In the bail hearing, the defence lawyers argued that the prosecution had failed to meet the “compelling reasons” threshold required to deny accused persons bail. They also alleged that not enough evidence had been presented to justify denial of bail.
Nicholas Ombija and Cliff Ombeta, representing Governor Obado, argued that the Migori county chief had not been mentioned directly in the affidavit filed by the prosecution seeking to deny their client bail.
Mr. Oyamo’s lawyer, Rogers Abisai, also claimed that the affidavit was full of falsehoods and relied on hearsay, pointing out a paragraph that referred to Mr. Oyamo as the Governor of Migori County.
The prosecution, through Deputy Director, Head of Offences Against the Person Department Jacob Ondari, responded saying that the state did not intend to deny the accused persons a constitutional right, but said the right to bail was not absolute.
“We’re not saying bail is not available; We are saying bail is not an absolute right,” said Mr. Ondari.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions also stated that there are several grounds posited by ‘several authorities’ that warrant the denial of bail, including the seriousness of the offence, the likely punishment and the possible interference of the witnesses.
“An accused person’s rights should always be balanced with that of other members of the public,” Mr. Ondari said.
The Deputy DPP also called on the court to dismiss an argument that alleged Governor Obado had already been tried by the public, saying that it had no founding in law. “That is political rather than legal. If he has already been tried by the public, why are we here?”
The State also said that it had filed affidavits to which the defence had not cross-examined. “All they are asking is for the court to dismiss offhand.”
Mr. Ondari also claimed that the defence was making an about turn by asking for evidence, but then claiming the evidence was insufficient when the State provided snippets of their evidence.
The defence, through Mr. Abisai, however clarified that the evidence sought was not that pertaining to the case but that concerning the compelling reasons being adduced to deny the accused persons bail.