Magazine article New African

Kenya: Robert Ouko Back on the Prowl; the Ghost of Dr Robert Ouko, Kenya's Foreign Minister Who Was Murdered in Cold Blood in February 1990, Has Returned to Haunt the Suspects. A Parliamentary Select Committee Charged with Investigating the Case Is Making Waves in the Capital Nairobi, Reports Wanjohi Kabukuru

Magazine article New African

Kenya: Robert Ouko Back on the Prowl; the Ghost of Dr Robert Ouko, Kenya's Foreign Minister Who Was Murdered in Cold Blood in February 1990, Has Returned to Haunt the Suspects. A Parliamentary Select Committee Charged with Investigating the Case Is Making Waves in the Capital Nairobi, Reports Wanjohi Kabukuru

Article excerpt

"Those who killed Dr Ouko are the same ones who tried to poison Prof George Saitoti," said President Daniel Moi at the time of Dr Robert Ouko's death in 1990. It is with these words that the Parliamentary Select Committee, led by Eric Gor Sunguh, retired to the coastal city of Mombasa in early March to compile its final report on the unsolved and brutal murder of Kenya's former foreign minister. A seven-page affidavit by the now ex-President Moi delivered to the Committee by his lawyer, Mutula Kilonzo, was rejected by Sunguh who maintained that Moi had to appear in person to give his side of the story.

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Fifteen years ago (12 February 1990 to be precise), Ouko, then Kenya's colourful and flamboyant foreign minister, was dragged from his home and murdered in cold blood. His charred remains were later "discovered" some 2.8km away from his Koru home in Got Alila four days after his disappearance. To this day, the murder still remains a mystery. An explosive corruption dossier on a number of companies and the involvement of senior government officials in the Moi government appear to be the possible cause that led to Ouko's death.

In the 15 years that the case has plodded on, many people believed to have had crucial information on the murder have also mysteriously died. But the case has simply refused to go away.

A Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed in October 1990 and chaired by Justice Evans Gicheru (now Kenya's chief justice), and a murder case involving the former Nakuru district commissioner, Jonah Anguka, all failed to unravel the mystery of Ouko's horrid death.

Moi disbanded the Commission prematurely just as it was about to complete its work. It had sat for 260 days and gathered evidence from 170 people when it was dissolved.

Moi, through his lawyer Kilonzo, has since denied that he disbanded the commission as a further cover-up of the plot, but that he made that "executive decision" fully satisfied that "it was the correct thing to do at the time".

In March 2003, only three months after winning the December 2002 elections, the new National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government, headed by President Mwai Kibaki, passed a landmark motion establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee, the second one in Kenya's history, to investigate a murder case. The first was in 1975 after the disappearance and death of the popular politician, J. M. Kariuki. While in opposition, members of the current government had tried to establish such a committee in 1995 but their efforts were thwarted by the then ruling KANU party.

Cumulative evidence so far gathered in the Ouko case has implicated former top officials in Moi's government. Grand cover-up has been the cornerstone of this saga.

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In his testimony, a former Criminal Investigations Department (CID) director, confessed that the "suicide theory" which had been bandied about immediately after Ouko's body had been "discovered", was hatched through consensus between him and other stalwarts of the Moi days.

Dr Jason Kaviti, the former government chief pathologist, has confirmed that the "suicide theory" was indeed manufactured. Moi's key right-hand men and confidantes are all accused of having played major roles in the case.

Witnesses, and especially the former Scotland Yard detective John Troon (who had been invited from London to investigate Ouko's death), have all pointed accusing fingers at Moi's government and its henchmen.

Scotland Yard had been invited after ugly demonstrations calling for the arrest of Ouko's killers had rocked the country, led by university students. …

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