In September last year, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) announced that they had arrested two police officers in Kisii and Kendu Bay, as well as recovered Ksh. 7 million, which was then believed to have been part of some Ksh. 72 million which was stolen from a bank in Nairobi West that same month.
The report claimed that Constable Chris Ayienda was arrested first in Kisii, and on further interrogation, led the officers to Kendu Bay in Homa Bay, where his accomplice a certain Wycliffe Vincent Owuor was arrested.
Also recovered at Owuor’s Kendu Bay house that afternoon is a brand new Subaru Forester car which the sleuths said bought on the same day of the heist, using the stolen money.
Fast forward to March 2020, a statement posted by detectives on social media said Owuor had been gunned down during a shootout with police officers in the streets of Kayole.
“Armed with pistols and riding on a motorbike, the three started robbing members of the public at Kayole Junction,” the DCI statement read.
The Mastermind in Ksh.72M Nairobi West ATM Heist last year; Wycliff Vincent ODUOR was today gunned down in a fierce shootout between a 3-man gang of Robbery W/Violence suspects & Detectives responding to a distress call from the public at Kayole Junction in Nairobi. Armed with… pic.twitter.com/REVlWhMqta
— DCI KENYA (@DCI_Kenya) March 24, 2020
This was immediately refuted by Vincent Owuor’s lawyer Cliff Ombeta, who through a series of Twitter posts, triggered suspicion over the circumstances under which he died and elicited the interest of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), human rights groups and the media.
In one of the tweets, he shared a clip in which three police officers confront a man and a gunshot is heard.
Mr. Ombeta claimed that detectives from the DCI dragged an unarmed Oduor out of a barbershop and shot him dead. He vowed to follow-up on the case until the truth behind his killing is unraveled.
I told you vincent was executed.
Now, DENY THIS. Where is the shootout. This was murder.
I have the facts. pic.twitter.com/0L8xx6MzPW
— COmbeta (@OmbetaC) March 26, 2020
Wycliff Vincent ODUOR. Was shot in cold blood.
Ocs olekiti you know why.
Ocpd kosgei you know why.
Cerew in pro box, KCT 818W, YOU KNOW WHY.
He tried to plead and even went into a barber shop and was removed from there and shot outside .
Ken, rogue cop. You shot him.
— COmbeta (@OmbetaC) March 26, 2020
If a report by the Daily Nation on 1st April 2020 is anything to go by, Mr. Owuor was a fairly popular cop around Kayole. Reporters from the publisher who went to the ground established that close to every Obama Estate resident they asked admitted to having known Mr. Owuor as an undercover police officer. This is due to the reason that he was always in the company of detectives.
In the long piece, the daily’s correspondents add that witnesses from the estate told said he was killed by a single bullet, contradicting the police report of a shootout.
They also said that there was no robbery reported that day in the area, contrary claims that he was in the company of two others who escaped on a motorcycle.
“Officers came with him in a Toyota Probox car. They got out of the vehicle and started pulling and pushing him. He ran away and entered a barbershop but the officers pulled him out, dragged went behind the building and then we heard a gunshot,” a businessman quoted by Daily Nation said.
An AP officer attached to an unnamed Kayole police post claimed that Owuor was a close friend of some officers and that they used him as an errand boy after his brother was killed by officers based at the same station.
“He was initially their informer, a snitch. He was very well connected. Later, after the robbery in Nairobi West, the officers asked him to leave Kayole and he went to live in Juja together with his wife and child. He started a pub business there,” the officer is quoted by Daily Nation.
City lawyer Cliff OImbeta says that Kayole Police boss Wilson Kosgey denied him and a team of IPOA officials access to the occurrence book where the incident was recorded.
The Daily Nation, however, reports that their newsmen learnt that the incident was booked under OB number 47/24/03/2020: where it was reported that an unidentified suspect had been shot. The statement would later be amended to claim that the “fatally shot suspect” was not Owuor – the alleged Ksh.72 million heist mastermind – but an unknown Oduor.
Another intriguing revelation by the team of investigating journos is that a senior police officer based at the same station has been driving the crimson-red Subaru Forester car registration number KCB 649Z- which was seized from Owuor after the ATM heist and initially parked at the Lang’ata Police Station.
How the exhibit believed to have been bought using proceeds of theft switched hands, nobody knows.
Following last Tuesday’s controversial shooting, the DCI ordered that Kayole Police Station officers be investigated.
Apart from Owuor’s shooting, detectives also renewed investigations into the shooting of two officers – Joel Chesire and Albert Abeere – attached to the station in October last year. A resident said that she saw two groups argue for a while before five gunshots were fired.
Lawyer Cliff Ombeta said that before he was killed, Owuor planned to give him information on the Nairobi West ATM heist.
“He was killed in cold blood, I believe the leadership of Kayole Police Station has several questions to answer,” he said.
Yet another source at the station said that after Owuor’s shooting three officers accused of killing him were “asked to stay out of work for a while.”
“There was a blame-game, those in the meeting started strategising on how to raid several electronic shops they claimed Owuor sold stolen electronics. Of course, they were planning a cover-up and how to justify his killing,” said an officer who Daily Nation did not name.
In Kenya extrajudicial killings are still resorted to by police to exact vengeance on the voiceless, wreaking pain and solitude on many families.
According to a report by The Star, at least 210 extrajudicial killings have happened in the last 15 months. Of these, 146 cases involve direct police action, while 39 deaths occurred in police cells.
The statistics come from executions in broad daylight, forced disappearances or death in police cells. These cases are on the rise, especially in slums and informal settlements, where youths aged 14-30 are killed nearly on a daily basis.
Most times, slums like Kayole Mathare, Huruma, Kamukunji, Eastleigh, Dandora, Mukuru, Korogocho, Kibera and Githurai bear the brunt of these killings.