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Did President Moi Want Robert Ouko Dead?

Nowhere To Be Seen

riot after death of ouko

University Students march to protest the death of Ouko. Students from University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University marched for days in protest

By the close of the day on 13 February, the Government did not know the whereabouts of its Foreign Affairs Ministers. An increasingly frantic Christabel Ouko called Jonah Anguka and Hezekiah Oyugi, who were family friends and told them to inform the President that her husband was missing. Perhaps, the greatest peril that faced the Christabel Ouko was that the very people she was trusting to find her husband were the same people who had participated in the murder. The call that Christabel made to Jonah Anguka gave him the legitimacy to impose himself on the scene, and monitor the direction that the investigation was taking. Early during the investigations, Anguka was literally everywhere he was not supposed to be.

When KBC announced that the Minister was missing on February 15, a massive manhunt was launched. But the Government was just playing to the gallery and playing for time so that the body can decompose a little more. Peter Kuria Muhoro, was a District Officer (D.O) in Kericho. Got Alila Hills happens to be on the border between Kericho and Kisumu. On the same day that the body was dropped, one of his Chiefs informed him of war cries on the Nyanza Border on the night of February 13. Before he went to the scene with the Chief, he called the Kericho DC Mr. Peter Kipyegon Lagat, a nephew, a nephew of President Moi, who authorized him to investigate the matter. At the scene, he found the two border communities – Luo and Kipsigis gathered and was told that there was no war but a dead body had been dropped by an helicopter on the Nyanza side and had been identified by the local people as that of Dr. Ouko. He then reported to the DC who told him it was okay, he had done his work.

It was not only the D.O who saw the body. The first person to see the body was a herds boy by the name Shikuku, who saw the body on the afternoon of February 13 just a few hours after it had been dropped. He reported the incident to his employer a Mr. Cherogon who immediately informed the area sub chief and the information went up the chain up to the D.C. still, no action was taken.

However, the biggest indication that the Government was aware that the Minister was laying in Got Alila Hills was an order from Nairobi to search the area surrounding Koru. Ordinarily, a search for such a high profile individual is extended to all ports of exit (airports, border points, and sea ports). By the time the body was found on September 16, it was badly decomposed and the stomach was gone. Thus begun the bloodiest cover up in the history of Kenya.

At first, the system spanner boy was Jonah Anguka. When the Government announced that the Minister was missing on February 15, Jonah Anguka arrived at Koru and immediately took over the show under the instructions from Hezekiah Oyugi. Chief Inspector Amos Litubula, who at the time was in charge of the investigation in the office of the provincial criminal investigation recalls being baffled how Anguka was just everywhere. According to Litubula, the conduct of Mr. Anguka was highly suspicious since Mr. Anguka was appearing everywhere yet he was not needed. The chief inspector informed his superiors on the suspicious conduct of Mr. Anguka, after which a Mr. Anguka was directed to go back to Nakuru District, his area of jurisdiction and report by way of call to the P.C. Nyanza that he was in the office in Nakuru. When Mr. Oyugi heard of this, Litubulia was immediately withdrawn from the case and Mr. Anguka continued to impose himself.

When the body of Dr. Ouko was officially discovered on February 17, Anguka was at scene. Immediately, he rushed home to inform Christabel Ouko that her husband had been found dead. When he got to the Dr.’s home, Deputy Director CID, Cleofas Okoko, was interviewing Mrs. Ouko behind a closed door. He did not even knock, he just blasted inside and blurted, ‘Bob is no more.’

‘No Stone will Be Left Unturned’

burial of ouko

Nicholas Biwott (the short man) and other government officials viewing the body of Dr. Ouko

Immediately the death of Dr. Ouko was announced, the public was incensed and demonstrations rocked Kisumu and parts of Nairobi. Wherever Moi went, he wasmet with chants of ‘You murdered Ouko’. To stave some of this suspicion, the Government submitted a diplomatic request to the UK for assistance in investigating the murder. The Government of UK responded immediately by sending its Scotland Yard (UK equivalent of CID) team headed by Superintendent John Troon. According to John Troon, the Government grossly misjudged his expertise to conduct and free and credible investigation. When John Troon and his team arrived at JKIA on February 17, he was met at the airport by a team headed by Jonah Anguka [The man was everywhere]. Now if you know how Government works, Jonah Anguka had no business being in this investigation. For a start, the body had been discovered in Kisumu, which was out of his jurisdiction. Secondly, a murder investigation is a purely police matter, and Anguka being a District Commissioner, had nothing to do with the investigation.

Immediately Anguka met Troon, he informed him that Dr. Ouko had committed suicide. Indeed, the Government tried to sabotage Troon’s work from the moment he landed in Kenya. Notably, no police officers met Troon’s team upon their arrival at the Airport although the normal practice would have been for police officers to meet them. Troon  met Mr. Philip Kilonzo, then Commissioner of Police, very briefly the following day who tried to persuade him that Dr. Ouko had committed suicide.

Troon had also carried a pathologist, Dr. Ian West, from the Scotland Yard to do the post mortem. The then Director of Medical Services, Dr. Oliech, who was to liaise with Dr. Ian West to handle the postmortem, advanced the view that Dr. Ouko committed suicide.  Upon completion of the postmortem, Mr. Troon and his team were taken to the late Hezekiah Oyugi’s house where Oyugi impressed upon them to treat Dr. Ouko’s death as a suicide case, which made him (Troon) perceive that the Kenya Government wanted to cover up the murder. At some point even Mr. Kilonzo, then Commissioner of Police persuaded Troon to accept the suicide theory. He appeared to have been under pressure to persuade Mr. Troon to buy the suicide theory. Everyone in Government that Troon spoke to tried to persuade him to accept the suicide theory.

When Troon visited Koru and Kisumu to speak to witnesses, guess who accompanied him? Yes, Jonah Anguka again. Some of the crucial witnesses like Selina Were could only speak Dholuo, so the Government availed a translator. However, for the most part, the translator was idle since it was Jonah Anguka who translated for Mr. John Troon. According to police officers who were part of the investigation, Anguka deliberately misinterpreted what the witnesses were saying to mislead Troon and his team. When the police officers complained about Mr. Anguka’s behavior, they were removed from the case. Officially, the Government swore to leave no stone unturned in the investigation. However, Mr. John Troon encountered all manner of roadblocks in his investigation. For instance, President Moi prevented Mr. Troon from taking a statement from Mr. Biwott and he (Troon) was plainly told he could not interview Mr. Biwott.

In the meantime, Dr. Ouko was buried on Saturday 24 February in an event reminiscent of when Jomo Kenyatta attended Tom Mboya’s funeral. The President arrived under heavy police guards escorted by four military and police helicopters. In the presidential retinue, was nearly the whole cabinet that was ferried from Kisumu in one bus for security reasons. When the situation looked like it would degenerate into anarchy, Christabel Ouko was called upon to calm the crowds who had come to mourn her husband. During the whole five-hour burial ceremony, police aimed guns at the angry mourners.

In spite of all the roadblocks put on his way, Troon completed his investigation but not before surviving a murder attempt. One day in 1991, Troon was enjoying his favorite treat of tilapia fish in a hotel he was staying with his wife in Mombasa. After taking a few bites, he noticed the fish tasted different. He felt nauseated and went up to his room and collapsed. Were it not for the quick actions of his wife who rushed him to hospital, he would have died that day. Others were not so lucky. Because he was a foreign national, Troon had assumed that the Government would not try to murder him, how wrong he was. Of course, Troon had noticed that some of the witnesses he had scheduled interviews with were suddenly developing short illnesses and dying within days or hours. In his preliminary report, Troon identified four individuals who were the lead suspects; Nicholas Biwott, Jonah Anguka, Julius Kobia, and Hezekiah Oyugi. In his final report he found enough evidence to implicate the following individuals for murder, corruption or conspiracy to commit those crimes: Mr. Philip Kilonzo, Dalmas Otieno, Nicholas Biwott, Mr. Cecil Miller, Mr. Hezekiah Oyugi, Mr. Julius Kobia, Mr. Malacki Oddenyo and Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat. What now for these suspect? Find out in the next page.

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10 Comments on Did President Moi Want Robert Ouko Dead?

  1. 1


    Justice has already been done, the good book say’s that the same yardstick you use for others it shall be used on you, the same measure you use on others the same shal be used on you, and even swahili saying say’s malipo ni hapa hapa duniani, probably the reason they( the killers) are alive for judgment to take effect on them. Poor souls.

  2. 2


    Whenever i read a story abt dr.ouko,am left with a deep anger inside. esp knowing dat de killers were never brought to justice. I was jus 7 years old then,but i still rem the newspaper headline of friday,Feb 16,1990 abt de horror that was on ouko’s body. it was shocking,really shocking. Good work p.k. What did they gain from the killing esp people like Oyugi,who were killed as well.

    • 1


      Sorry, i meant the newspaper headline of sunday,feb 18th,1990.

    • 4


      Thanks for that insight. Personally, I think this murder hurt a lot of people of people because Ouko was a good man. . . People like Hezekiah Oyugi and Jonah Anguka thought that by helping in the murder, they were securing their long-term stay in KANU government. Unfortunately, the same government turned against them viciously after the murder.

  3. 0


    True,exclusive and reliable piece of information about the ministers death

  4. 1


    wow! i was an 11 year boy when he died but i still recall being asked to leave school after riots rocked Nakuru town where i was schooling…nice work.

    • 2


      Thanks for your feedback. In 1990, I was only a kid. I started to hear about Ouko in 2003 when Moi left. I was an avid reader of newspapers then. When doing research for the story, I could not believe that these things could happen and no one was ever held to account. The worst thing is that in the end, Justice is not done.

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