Reprieve for Didmus Barasa as court lifts ban on Bungoma visit over murder charges

Kimilili MP Didmus Wekesa Barasa

Kimilili MP Didmus Wekesa Barasa.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa can now visit his home county of Bungoma after the High Court in Kakamega lifted a ban that had barred him from setting foot in his constituency over election-related murder charges.

Kakamega High Court Judge Patrick Otieno on Monday ruled that Mr Barasa be allowed to visit his constituency and others in the county.

Following the ruling, the MP was planning to hold a rally in his constituency on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the court decision.

The court on August 24 granted Mr Barasa a Sh10 million bond with a surety of Sh5 million after he was accused of shooting dead a security aide of his competitor Brian Khaemba, who vied on the Democratic Action Party of Kenya (DAP-K) ticket. The MP was held in custody for two weeks.

Mr Barasa was accused of murdering Brian Odinga Olunga at the Chebukwabi polling station in Kimilili constituency on August 9, voting day. The shooting allegedly happened immediately after voting was closed.

The second-term lawmaker denied the charge before Justice Otieno.

The court ordered the lawmaker to surrender his passport and refrain from commenting on the case.

The case conference will be held on November 14.

A postmortem report produced by Western region pathologist Dr DM Muchana showed Mr Olunga died from profuse bleeding after a bullet was stuck in his head.

Mr Barasa said he did not shoot Mr Olunga and was also interested in finding out who killed him. He argued that there were many guns at the Chebkhwabi polling station when the incident occurred.

The MP argued that there was no evidence that the bullet that killed Mr Olunga was from his firearm.

“On voting day, there were other people with guns as well, including my competitor and the police officers manning the place,” he stated, demanding a forensic examination of all the guns that were at the polling station on that day.

After Mr Barasa was arrested, Mr Khaemba sued in September to challenge his win.

He wanted his opponent’s victory overturned, arguing that he had displayed his firearm in public and had allegedly shot his aide.

Mr Khaemba claimed that after his aide was shot, his agents took off fearing for their lives. He argued that the shooting caused voter apathy in areas where he had widespread support.

The electoral agency declared Mr Barasa winner with 26,861 votes against Mr Khaemba’s 9,497.

Jubilee candidate Erastus Muchumuji had 278 votes, Peter Makokha (ODM) 486, and Suleiman Kasuti Murunga (independent) 479.

In a 26-page petition, Mr Khaemba said he was not satisfied with the results. He claimed the process was marred by discrepancies.

He also claimed there was voter bribery, intimidation of agents and chaos, and that several of his supporters were assaulted at various places before and during the polls.