Hezakiah Oyugi

Troon’s next prime suspects for further investigating into the murder of Dr Ouko was Hezekiah Oyugi

Troon interviewed Hezekiah Oyugi, the Permanent Secretary, Provincial and Internal Security, because Scotland Yard’s enquiries had found that he might have spent the night of Friday 9th and Saturday 10th of February at the Sunset Hotel in Kisumu. The hotel’s Assistant Manager, Mr Julius Essendi, had given evidence that a local Asian businessman, Mr Atool Shah, had paid Ksh700/- and booked the room in Oyugi’s name. [TFR para 230]

Essendi said that although he did not see Oyugi he was certain that the room was for him to the extent that he had it made up to VIP status, that the room was slept in and that the occupant did have breakfast on the morning of February 10th.

In support of his testimony Essendi produced copies of the receipt ledger and a receipt recording payment for the room in the name of Oyugi together with the hotel’s guest list and other documents, but no document was produced with Oyugi’s signature on it. Troon’s colleague Detective Sergeant Lindsay also said he found some evidence that Oyugi had been seen at the hotel at the time but was unable to trace the member of staff who originally testified that he had seen him. [TFR para 231]

Atool Shah confirmed that he had paid for the room at the direction of his nephew, Mrs Dipak Shah, and gave the receipt to him. Atool said he knew of Oyugi but had never met him. Troon however, did not believe him. He stated in his ‘Final Report’ that, ‘I have no doubt that Atool Shaah knows full well that he booked the room for Mr Oyugi, and had met Oyugi previous to making the booking’. [TFR para 232]

The nephew, Mr Dipak Panchard Shah essentially confirmed the story of the room booking. He said Oyugi had asked him to book a room at the Imperial Hotel Kisumu but there were no vacancies hence he booked a room at the Sunset Hotel. [TFR para 233]

Troon noted that enquiries had found that the Imperial Hotel was fully booked on the night of the 9th/10th February because of the International Rotary meeting that weekend. A room for Dr Ouko had been booked at the Imperial Hotel for that night as he was due to make a speech there on the 10th February but he had not used the room. [TFR 248]

Dipak Shah also said he gave the receipt for the room booking to Oyugi’s driver ‘whom he could not identify’ and also said he could not be sure if Oyugi or his driver slept at the Sunset Hotel that night. [TFR para 234]

Oyugi’s driver, an administrative police officer by the name of Mr James Njan Mbegua, confirmed Oyugi called on Shah on the evening of the 9th February and that the hotel room was booked but that Oyugi changed his mind and returned to his home in Rongo where Mbegua said they stayed for the weekend. [TFR para 235]

A Mr Francis Cheruyot, a telephonist at Rongo Office, near to the Koru Farm, alleged to Troon that on Tuesday 13 February 1990, at about 6am, he was on duty on the post office telephone switchboard when he saw Hezekiah Oyugi, ‘who was a passenger in a white car containing three other persons’, drive past the post office on two occasions but Cheruyot would not make a written statement to this effect, although Troon stated that Cheruyot was ‘absolutely sure of the date, time and what he had seen’. [TFR, para 236]

Oyugi was subsequently unable to produce the daily log of his official car. [TFR, para 246]

Oyugi was interviewed by a member of the Scotland Yard team on the 22nd May, 1990. He confirmed that Dr Ouko had visited him on the 5th February and that they had talked the Kisumu municipality and the dissolution of the council. Troon recorded that, ‘Mr Oyugi says that Dr Ouko had wanted some action taken on people who may have committed offences, and was adamant that they only discussed local Kisumu corruption’. [TFR para 239]

Other than that, according to Troon, Oyugi seemed to have little knowledge of anything. He knew of no row on the ‘Washington Trip’, didn’t know that Dr Ouko had seen the President on the morning of Monday 5th February and that he knew of no papers that were supposed to be missing from Ouko’s Koru home. Oyugi said he didn’t know Airaghi or Briner-Mattern, or that the latter had been interviewed by Scotland Yard in London.

Troon thought Oyugi was ‘evasive’ about his whereabouts between the 8th and 13th of February and would not let Troon look at his diary. He denied being near the Rongo Post Office on the morning of February 13th or of meeting Ouko over  the weekend before his murder but said that the Minister had telephoned him on the morning of Monday 12th checking whether Oyugi had informed the President of his road accident. [TFR para 243]

For Troon, at the time of writing his ‘Final Report’, Oyugi ‘could not be ruled out of any involvement into the death of Dr Ouko’. [TFR para 246]

Hezekiah Oyugi was arrested by the Kenya police on 26th November, 1991, immediately after the Commission of Inquiry was halted but released on 10th December ‘due to lack of sufficient evidence’. [KPFI 7:3 page 29]

The Kenya police confirmed Oyugi’s story of the room booking at the Sunset Hotel and stated that his claim to have spent the weekend at his Rongo home was supported by the Pastor of Dudu Church, his driver and his bodyguard.

The Kenya police’s ‘Further Investigations’ Report said that Oyugi was well known at the Sunset Hotel and that if he had stayed there one of the employees would have noticed. They also found that two people with the name Oyugi were booked into the Sunset Hotel for the night of the 9th/10th of February. [KPFI 7:3 page 32]

The Report concluded that, ‘Whilst there is evidence that Mr. Oyugi was booked in room 104 at Sunset Hotel, Kisumu, there is no evidence whatsoever to prove he slept there. His explanation seems logical and acceptable. We see nothing to suggest that the booking had anything to do with the disappearance and subsequent death of Dr. Ouko.’ [KPFI 7:3 (ii) page 32]

The Kenya police also traced Francis Cheruiyot, the telephone operator at Rongo Post Office who had told Scotland Yard he had seen Oyugi in a white car on the morning of the 13th February, the day Dr Ouko was murdered. However, Cheruiyot stated that on the 13th he was off-duty, his three days off-duty having started on the 11th February, 1990, so he could not have seen Oyugi. [KPFI 7:3 (iv) page 33]

The Kenya police also, by then, had Oyugi’s itinerary for the period [KPFI 7:3 (viii) pages 36-39] which claimed that on the 13th February, 1990, he had accompanied President Moi to a public rally at Murang’a and that the Presidential motorcade had left State House in Nairobi at 8.00am. [KPFI 7:3 (iv) page 33]

[At the time of this draft of the study into Dr Ouko’s murder by Kenya Unsolved, three photographs dated 13th February, 1990, had just been found in an archive in Nairobi which appear to show Oyugi at a rally with President Moi but the identity of Oyugi has yet to be established for certain.]

Hezekiah Oyugi had, of course, been on the trip to Washington that preceded Dr Ouko’s murder and the Kenya police investigated allegations of a ‘row’ taking place on the trip that might have constituted a motive for murder. ‘Most of the Government officials and security officers who accompanied H.E the President to Washington have been interviewed’, the Report stated.

The Kenya police found no evidence of a dispute occurring and noted that the allegation was based on ‘mere hearsay attributed to Mr. Bethuel Kiplagat and Mr. Oddenyo by Mr. Mbajah and his sister Mrs. Randiak’, and that Kiplagat and Oddenyo had denied that there was any disagreement.

The ‘Further Investigations’ Report concluded that the allegation that the visit to Washington by Kenyan delegation had some bearing on the cause of Dr. Ouko’s death is baseless and without any supporting evidence’. [KPFI 7:3 (vi) page 35]

Oyugi’s movements were carefully checked and confirmed by the Kenya police, the Report states, and it finally concluded that, ‘Our enquiries have found no evidence to connect Mr. Oyugi with the disappearance and subsequent death of Dr. Robert John Ouko’. [KPFI 7:3 (xi) page 35]

Next Chapter: What Did Jonah Anguka Know And What Did He Hide?