A Nairobi court has disallowed the bail application of Migori County Governor Okoth Obado after ruling that the circumstances surrounding the court case were insufficient for a bond request to be fully considered.
The ruling read out by Justice Jessie Lessit on September 27 concluded that the developing court case had not jumped all the hurdles required for a considerable decision to be made. The Judge therefore directed that the bail application of Governor Obado be revoked for now.
Governor Obado still has the chance to re-apply for bail, but will only be able to do so on October 8 when the case will next be heard in court.
The stumbling block to Governor Obado’s application is due to the prosecution having not yet fulfilled part of its mandate as pertains the case.
As of yet, witness statements have not been served upon the Migori County Governor, with Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Jacob Ondari saying the same will have been availed to the accused by October 3.
“The application cannot be determined until witness statements and other evidence are availed to all the other parties. That is the only way that this court can fully exercise its discretion of applying the factors for consideration in determining whether or not any compelling reasons exist to deny bail.”
At the same time, the prosecution hopes to consolidate the Migori County boss’ case with those of his aide, Michael Oyamo, and Caspal Obiero. All three are facing the same murder charge of pregnant Rongo University student Sharon Otieno.
Justice Lessit therefore reasoned that for purposes of bail applications, she will rule when the cases are consolidated. She however noted that as per the law, all bond requests will be considered individually.
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The ruling further extends Governor Obado’s remand period to at least October 8. “He will be remanded until that time,” Justice Lessit said.
The Head of the Criminal Court Division, in giving her ruling also ruled on the arguments brought before her on September 25 when lawyers on both sides argued Governor Obado’s bond request.
The Justice said that the burden of proving that there should be compelling reasons to restrict bail lay firmly on the prosecution, but stated that this is why the accused must be heard in court.
Justice Lessit also stated that Governor Obado’s presumption of innocence would not be interfered with by denying him bail, stating that to argue as such was “erroneus.”
Further, the Judge ruled that the failure on the prosecution to serve the defence with witness statements did not mean that there was no weighty case against the accused parties.
She also said the case was complex because the fact that investigations were ongoing made the nature of the case fluid, as releasing some of the accused on bail would coincide with the arrest of others. The Deputy DPP had informed the court that other suspects in the case were still at large.
The Judge had also stated that another factor that will be considered in the bail application would be the likelihood to interfere with the case, as she stated that elected leaders and representatives — as Governor Obado is — command considerable power and influence both within the areas of their electorate and outside.
Earlier on in court, Mr. Obiero, who is registered as a Migori county clerk, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sharon Otieno.
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